When is dedicated funding not dedicated? When it's for the MTA

Every weekday, 8 million commuters rely on New York’s mass-transit network, driving an economy worth billions of dollars to the state. Yet despite its vital importance, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been the frequent target of underfunding, budget raids and broken promises from state government.

This year is no different. Even in the face of subways' frequent overcrowding and growing delays, the executive budget proposed a 21% decrease in the payroll mobility tax replacement funds—a cut of $65 million to the MTA.

The payroll mobility tax, originally passed in 2009 to provide much needed funding to the transit system, was modified in 2011 when our elected leaders voted to exempt many small businesses. Recognizing, however, that the tax was a core source of MTA revenue, a promise was made at the same time to replace any funds lost by the change.

Every year since, just over $300 million has been appropriated to keep the funding level. Until now.

Despite having included the funding in its budget projections for years, the MTA now says that it does not need the money. While it might seem shocking that the MTA doesn’t care about losing $65 million, it’s less surprising when considering that the agency is beholden to Albany politics. But to the average New York transit rider it’s fairly obvious that this budget proposal has gone off the rails.

The MTA needs the funding now more than ever. Transit service continues to deteriorate: delays have increased, crowding is worse, trains are breaking down more frequently and riders are starting to look to Uber and other alternatives. Keeping funding commitments to the MTA so it can address these alarming trends should be an obvious priority.

Albany’s legislators now have the opportunity to make this right. As the budget is negotiated, the state must uphold the promise and restore the funding to the MTA.

A promise should be a promise, even if it is made in Albany.

MTA subways, buses and rails are expected to be impacted by the snowstorm. (Credit: Getty Images / Don Emmert)


MTA service changes due to snowstorm headed for NYC

With predictions of 12 to 20 inches of snow on Tuesday, officials are weighing their options on how to best handle mass transit in New York City.

On Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office announced that all aboveground subway stations will close at 4 a.m. on Tuesday, meaning that service will only run underground.

Express subway service will stop running after Monday evening’s rush hour. Previously planned service changes overnight Monday and Tuesday were also canceled, the MTA said.

Cuomo had previously warned that the MTA may modify train and bus service to protect equipment, reduce chances of accidents and reduce the likelihood of stranded passengers.

Service on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad would likely be "significantly impacted," but Cuomo stopped short of outlining specific plans to modify service.

Here's a look at the weather-related service changes, according to the MTA:

Subways
In addition to the changes noted above, the following service changes are in effect:
-Express 6 trains are making local stops in the Bronx between Third Avenue-138th Street and Parkchester.
-D trains are making local stops in Brooklyn between 36th Street and DeKalb Avenue.
-N trains are making local stops in Brooklyn between 59th Street and DeKalb Avenue.
-N trains are running local between Canal Street and 57th Street-Seventh Avenue.
-Q trains are running local between Canal Street and 57th Street-Seventh Avenue.
-W train service is suspended along the entire line.

The MTA warned that subway service may be reduced or suspended if more than 8 inches of snow falls.

Buses
All articulated buses are being replaced by standard 40-foot buses. The MTA announced Monday that there would be up to a 30 percent reduction in local, limited and SBS bus service starting Tuesday morning.
Service is “likely to be suspended on Tuesday morning,” Cuomo said, but the decision will be made based on road and weather conditions at a later time.
Additionally, with 6 inches of snow, the following changes are possible:
-Route cancellations
-Longer headways
-Skipped stops
With 10 or more inches of snow, bus service may be reduced or suspended.

LIRR
With 10 or more inches of snow, LIRR service may be reduced or suspended.
Metro-North
With 10 or more inches of snow, Metro-North service may be reduced or suspended.
Staten Island Railway
With 6 inches of snow, SIR express service may be suspended.
With 10 or more inches of snow, SIR service may be reduced or suspended.

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