Castorina Calls for MTA Audit Before Raising Taxes for Funding
Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed taxing the wealthiest 1 percent to fund repairs to the failing transit system. This comes after multiple derailments, delays, and a declared state of emergency for the NYC subway. The Mayor and Governor Cuomo have fought over responsibility of funding the struggling MTA. Funneling more funds into a mismanaged organization may not bring the solutions that New York City so desperately needs.
A case study done by the New York Times for the Lexington Avenue line which carries the Number 4, 5 and 6 trains showed that 77 out of 90 scheduled trains during 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. for June through July came. With the MTA focusing less on meeting their subway schedule and trying harder to keep the trains evenly spaced out, trains simply just do not run. Subway riders cannot depend on the schedule to represent an accurate time that a train will come, causing an even greater headache for the nearly 6 million riders the subway sees every day.
The MTA’s annual operating budget is $14.6 billion, where less than half is derived from fare-paying riders. The MTA payroll consumes a large portion of its annual operating budget with salaries, benefits and overtime costing $4.7 billion last year, nearly $1 billion more than the average for a U.S. transit system. Another $2 billion is paid annually to chip away at the interest on debt that the MTA owns. Overall, the MTA consistently runs a deficit on an annual basis and yet their only solutions to the crisis we face are to raise fares and taxes for hard-working New Yorkers.
MTA Chairman Joe Lhota’s proposed emergency plan to fix the rapidly decaying subway system comes to $800 million – roughly $450 million in operating costs and $380 million in capital investment. Two suggestions from Mr. Lhota’s plan are removing seats from overcrowded subways and hiring 2,700 workers. Removing seats would increase ridership by another 25 people per car, only increasing the overcrowding seen on many trains which could delay them further.
On the matter Assemblyman Ron Castorina said, “The mismanaged MTA is in crisis and needs to be audited immediately. I do not support taxpayers forking over another penny to the MTA until an audit occurs, and we can see what is going on. Major infrastructure improvements and tactical changes to improve the experience of riders are of paramount concern. It doesn’t make sense to throw money at an issue without delving into the underlying problems. Every effort should be made to attain efficiency that the taxpayers demand – that clearly begins with an audit.”