Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Sic Transit Dinero

In our previous post we commented on the confusion surrounding the various analyses of the city's congestion problem, a confusion exacerbated by the absence of any independent review. Well, the confusion extends to the funding stream that the congestion tax is supposed to supplement. For a long time, we've been saying that we need some good accountants to examine the various funding mechanisms for mass transit, yet all we've seen so far doing the analysis, is the usual public accounting firm of Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe.

This is all further underscored by a Pete Donohue story on the far hike in this morning's NY Daily News. As the story highlights: "NYC Transit's subways and buses move 7 million riders a day - but City Hall picks up just a sliver of the cost." But why is this so? And shouldn't the city be spending more of its own money on an essential public service?

Certainly, many of the transit advocates and almost all elected officials believe this should be the case. The Straphangers Gene Russianoff makes this point: "The city needs to up its very limited funding for the subways and buses system that makes our economy possible." But, if so, why are we putting the congestion tax horse before the MTA governance and finance cart?

In addition, even proponents of the congestion tax disagree with the mayor's assumption that the levy will be sufficient to meet the capital budget needs of the transit system. All of which underscores our point here: there is so much confusion on every side of this mass transit/congestion policy debate, that to simply plow ahead blindly with the congestion tax is short sighted, and is doomed to be ineffective at achieving almost all of the stated objectives articulated by its proponents.