Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Farely Predictable

One rationale down, it seems. As the NY Times is reporting this morning, it looks as if the MTA is going forward with the rumored fare/tolls increase. No surprise in that, it's just important to highlight the fact that any linkage between the fare increase and the mayor's congestion pricing plan is, and always was, political fiction.

What needs to be done here is for our elected officials to begin a process of examination: the MTA must be put under the microscope in order to evaluate its operations with an eye towards either reform or replacement. Unelected public authorities, while sometimes providing needed cover for electeds, are basically unaccountable and undemocratic vestiges that should be replaced by entities that are directly responsive to political authority.

It is true, as City Council Transportation Chair John Liu tells the Times this morning, that any fare increase, "is tantamount to a tax increase..." Given this taxing ability we need to insure that the authority is not only accountable, but also competent-with the money raised being spent prudently. Richard Brodsky's hearings a few years ago on the MTA don't give us a great deal of confidence that this is so.

Which takes us back to the mayor's own tax plan. It is our view that the stables need to be cleaned before we devise an elaborate taxing scheme that purports to raise money for mass transit. We know that the mayor's proposal for his own "smart" authority will be going nowhere in Albany, which only means that any money raised would be wheel barreled over to the MTA.

Big mistake! We need for the Albany commission on the congestion plan to begin the process of developing a regional transit plan, one that examines the utility of maintaining the dysfunctional public authority that seems to avoid even a modest amount of oversight. Until then, proposals to tax New Yorkers for putative transit improvements should be resisted strenuously.