Thursday, June 28, 2007

Subway Crowding Dismissed

In what has become expected from the "tin eared" mayor, Mike Bloomberg ridiculed the idea that the subways, already at capacity or above on many of its key lines, couldn't accommodate the extra 100,000 or so additional riders that might get diverted if his congestion tax were implemented. As the NY Post reports this morning, the faux plebe mayor told the less fortunate gathered for a Crain's breakfast; "So you stand next to people. Get real. This is New York. What's wrong with that?"

But as Councilman David Weprin told the NY Daily News, "He doesn't take it from Queens...The F Train on 179th Street is so overcrowded from Queens into Manhattan-it's ridiculous." But the clueless chief executive continues to do his best Chico Marx imitation: "Who are you going to believe, me or you own lying eyes?" The mayor kept questioning where the capacity figures came from, and at the press conference that opponents held outside of city hall yesterday Committee spokesperson Walter McCaffrey told reporters, "You know those are the statistics of the MTA..."

Which brings us to the red herring that proponents of the congestion plan have begun to emphasize more in their desperation to get more of the tax payers money-the fare increase. Key advocate for this point of view is the Straphangers Gener Russianoff. As he told Metro, the need to keep the fare in line made the mayor's congestion plan a "no brainer."

It always is for the tax and spend crowd, but this congestion scheme is desperately in need of a good accountant. There have been so many claims for the congestion plan that it would be useful for some legislative review process to put all of the numbers-the claims and counter-claims-to the test. Who will pay the most, and who will be cut a break because their tolls will defray the congestion fee? If the money is used to keep the fare down, how much will actually be left to build more infrastructure? And finally, if it makes sense to tax more for these purposes, then is it fair for middle class commuters to shoulder the greater share of the responsibility?

One thing's for sure. The mayor, just judging on his comments about subway crowding, is no reliable source of information, nor can he be considered an honest broker for this deal. As the NY Post editorializes this morning, the mayor has once again compromised his credibility: "We've tentatively backed that plan. But let's face it: it's no quick or surefire cure to Gotham's transit ills. New Yorkers need to know that motorists who give up their cars will have a civilized alternative to get in and out of Manhattan."

And who can believe anything that a dysfunctional MTA has to say, Just one day after saying that. "There's no room at the inn," TA head Roberts-finally getting the right talking points-"backpeddled-saying that 100,000 ex-motorists would not add significantly to transit ridership." As the Post says, the mayor's "let-them-eat-MetroCards" attitude will get him fried on the third rail; just where his scheme and a unreliable MTA belongs.