Tariff Increases in 2019, 2021 Won't Save MTA
NEW YORK — October 15, 2018
According to the annual report on the work of the largest transport company in New York, the regional transit system is in crisis.
"Service has deteriorated on the city’s subways and buses, the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North. Subway ridership has fallen notwithstanding the largest job expansion in New York City’s history," Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a statement.
According to his forecasts, the situation will not improve even by 2021.
More than 8 million people use MTA transport every day, going from home to work and back home. However, due to poor service, routine maintenance failures, as well as problems with funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, they are now facing the largest problem in a few decades. The company is rapidly losing passengers — its main source of income, according to DiNapoli report.
Every day, New Yorkers are more convinced how slowly the quality of their public transport is improving and find themselves asking, “What are we paying for?” They increasingly prefer methods like Uber or Lyft.
Passengers certainly "deserve better [service], especially given the planned increase in fares," DiNapoli said. The MTA announced this summer a 4% increase in subway tariffs in 2019 and 2021.
Among the other causes of the MTA’s budget deficit are:
- the decrease of the capacity of metro and buses
- the rising cost of medical insurance for employees and retirees,
- the increase of loans for expensive projects.
From 2010 to 2017, the New York subway capacity on weekdays fell from 87.7 to 63.4%, and by the end of 2018, the mark may fall by 2.1%. And it’s just repair problems either, but the weather is also a factor. Train traffic dramatically slows due to frequent flooding during heavy rains. However, the state Comptroller cites another, more than obvious reason: the dilapidated infrastructure and rolling stock subway: about a third of the trains have been operating for more than 30 years.
According to DiNapoli’s report, New York transportation also suffers from failing to keep to its schedule. In 2017, the Long Island Railroad had the highest amount of train delays in 18 years, and the punctual Metro-North Railroad has fallen by 7%since 2009.
In its turn, the MTA offers several plans to stem the outflowing tide of passengers, but they require big bucks: One plan needs at least $40 billion from the state and city, or other plans require about $240 million until 2022, according to the Auditor General.
MTA spokesman Jon Weinstein responded: "We know these issues and the struggles riders are facing well — it's why the MTA has new leadership, dramatic modernization plans, short-term blueprints for improving service, aggressive cost-containment initiatives and why we've been pleading for sustainable, reliable sources of funding. These issues are well documented and it's exactly why we're focused on solutions, which is all we're focused on every minute of every day."
In commenting on the comptroller's report, Danny Pearlstein, a spokesman at the Riders Alliance, said: "The comptroller's report confirms exactly what riders experiencing widespread subway delays and meltdowns already know: the MTA needs more money."
"Governor Cuomo and state legislators must reverse a generation of disinvestment in the subway with a fair and sustainable source of funds to modernize the system," Pearlstein said as he touted congestion pricing.
While welcoming the report, one government watchdog group said DiNapoli's office's job as an overseer of the MTA has been lacking.
"The oversight of the MTA by the comptroller's office has been inadequate," John Kaehny, the director of Reinvent Albany, said.
And while lawmakers argue about the sources of funding, none of the MTA’s projects seem to have used funds well. All of their past alleged modernization programs were executed poorly.The 18-month Subway Action Plan initiative to stabilize the metro system (in the period from July 2017 to December 2018), which cost $836 million out of the budget, brought only “minor improvements.”
Under these circumstances, even the planned increase of tariffs for 2019 and 2021 provision will not save the MTA: in 2022, the company’s budget deficit, according to forecasts, will amount to $634 million.