How to fund the MTA

By Felix Salmon
November 20, 2009
Alex Pareene has a wonderful rant about New York's MTA, which picks up on this astonishing line from the Daily News:

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Alex Pareene has a wonderful rant about New York’s MTA, which picks up on this astonishing line from the Daily News:

In addition to the 2010 budget, the MTA released a four-year fiscal plan. It envisions 7.5% fare and toll hikes in 2011 and 2013 as the agency tries to establish a pattern of regular inflation-based increases.

‘Cos obviously consumer prices generally are going to rise by 15.5% between now and 2013.

Pareene also has a very good point about the fungibility of city revenues:

Fares are simply taxes—incredibly regressive taxes, just like the sales taxes that New York City residents suffer to fund our own transit while suburban New Yorkers bitch about the prospect of being charged to clog our streets with their cars, and Jersey dicks bemoan the tolls they have to pay to enter the city where they make all of their money while contributing nothing back.

This is one reason why Charles Komanoff’s plan for reducing MTA tolls while implementing a congestion charge makes so much sense — and it’s a reason which has yet to fully penetrate the consciousness of most New Yorkers. There’s no particular reason why the MTA’s revenues should cover the MTA’s costs, especially when the MTA benefits the city in so many other ways, such as reducing congestion and increasing possible population density and therefore total taxes. Yet somehow everybody seems to blindly accept that the MTA should cover most of its costs through selling MetroCards. Sad.

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