With the MTA, there’s plenty of blame to go around

for The Brooklyn Paper
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This week, rush-hour riders on the D and R trains — the section which runs through southern and Downtown Brooklyn — were packed in like sardines, while also having their wait times doubled.

That’s thanks to the disappearance of part of the M train in Brooklyn. And that’s thanks to the worst transit cuts in many decades, killing or downsizing of scores of bus routes and all or part of three subway lines.

Disabled riders who use paratransit will face harsh cuts, too.

Literally millions of us will suffer greater waiting times, more crowding, extra transfers and longer trips.

And that’s thanks to a bad economy, to the MTA’s failure to seek transit operating aid from the federal government and to the state legislature, which cut $143 million in already-promised aid.

The news is as grim as transferring from one bus to another at 3 in the morning.

Let’s focus on one of the train cuts that’s not gotten a lot media attention: The MTA’s cuts also include new and less generous crowding standards for off-peak hours and weekends. These are called “loading guidelines,” which gives you a sense of what transit officials think of their customers.

Amazingly, current guidelines purport to provide enough service so that all off-peak and weekend riders get a seat. The guidelines that have gone into effect permit 10 to 18 standees per car at off hours, a standard that ensures longer waits and more discomfort.

By the MTA’s own estimates, more than 3.5 million riders will be negatively affected by the new rules.

On the bus side, tens of thousands of riders lost their routes or had them combined with others. In all, more than 570 bus stops where eliminated.

These cuts will hurt the city’s economy and environment. And they could have been avoided.

We know the state’s cupboards are bare. But Gov. Paterson and the MTA could have agreed to use a portion of federal stimulus funds to prevent a deterioration of service.

There’s still the possibility of getting emergency transit aid from Washington and restoring some service. Ten U.S. senators — including New York’s Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand — are sponsoring a bill that would raise hundreds of millions of dollars for New York-area transit.

So while you are waiting in the heat for that bus or train, call some wavering senators and urge them to support the measure.

Gene Russianoff is the staff attorney for the Straphangers Campaign, a division of the New York Public Interest Research Group.

Updated 5:19 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Cap'n Transit from Woodside says:
400 words, and only a tiny mention of the hundreds of millions the State Legislature has cut over the past fifteen years? Not a single mention of bridge tolls?

They're up for re-election this year, you know. Ask them what's more important: paying billions of our tax dollars to provide "free" bridges" for drivers, or decent transit service?
July 2, 2010, 7:57 am
Larry Littlefield from Windsor Terrace says:
Yes, but the fare was cut repeatedly, adjusted for inflation over the years (as was tax support). Pensions were increased. Contractor cost soared. Everyone got a piece, and money was borrowed to make up the difference. Now the bill is due.

Isn't it a good thing? If the MTA wasn't in a downward fnancial spiral, how would those who benefitted in the past know there wasn't more they could have taken?

What is happening now is a victimization of the present by the past. And not just at the MTA. This state has been run for the benefit of those cashing in and moving out for 18 years.
July 2, 2010, 8:21 am
al pankin from downtown says:
why are we seeing access a ride busses all over town running sround empty or with one passenger when we are cutting mass transit and laying off transit workers? this is nothing more than a medicaid limo service. it's time to cut it out and stop wasting $470 million a year on this wastefull program.
July 3, 2010, 5:18 am

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