BY Gloria Dulan-Wilson
As a former TA employee, I am thoroughly disgusted at the highhanded attempts on the part of the MTA to hijack affordable public transportation from New York.
They have been holding bogus hearings throughout New York, but they have already made their decision long before the first person spoke of the difficulty and hardship they will face if there are cutbacks in service, increases in fares, or discontinuation of lines in specific communities.
So it causes me to ask this question: Who owns the transit system in New York? Is it the city, the state, or the federal government. Or is it the people of New York? The transit system is not a private entity, although you’d think it was as of late the way the so-called transit board has been behaving.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is a public benefit corporation responsible for public transportation in the U.S. state of New York, serving 12 counties in southeastern New York, along with 2 counties in southwestern Connecticut under contract to the Connecticut Department of Transportation, carrying over 11 million passengers on an average weekday systemwide, and over 800,000 vehicles on its nine toll bridges and tunnels per weekday (WikiPedia).
The MTA also receives billions in federal and state funding to keep running, along with the fares we continue to pony up every time they screw up. It seems to me they’re doing a pretty sorry job of taking care of our public trust. I would say that trust has been constantly and continuously violated.
In fact, it appears that they have an overabundance of incompetents in high places, bringing down all the good work started by David Gunn and Jim Corbin back in the mid-80’s when the system was in serious decline. It was Gunn that brought management and quality control to the Transit Authority at a time when track fires, robberies, and other atrocities were out of control. He not only got rid of the graffiti, cleaned up the platforms, brought in the modern cars we’ve become accustomed to, but had all the transit workers completely and totally retrained so they did their positions efficiently, effectively and with courtesy and respect for the ridership.
Well, it’s 25 years later -- how do you like them now? Where has the quality gone? The trains may look nice, but do you really like it when the car starts off with a jerk and you’re nearly knocked off your feet?
How do you feel about getting on a car where there’s so much debris on the floor and the seats that you have to shove it aside to sit? The cars are supposed to be cleaned when they reach each final terminal.
How do you like it when you go to a token booth to find that they've closed it down and there is no token clerk to help you; or worse yet, you have an incompetent in the booth who knows absolutely nothing about anything, including directions. Just a warm body.
Who's brilliant idea was it to close down the token booth at 34th street and 8th Ave., right at the mouth of Madison Square Garden, Long Island RailRoad, and Penn Station -- no token clerk?!! People traveling to and from the city can't info or service in the busiest stop on the planet. You have to wonder if the person making these pivotal decisions is on drugs, or are they just cutting services just be be cutting them?
By the way, how many of you can use your cell phones in the tunnels?
The Transit Authority former headquarters, located at Jay Street and Borough Hall, where the A/C and F trains run, is receiving an overhaul. The escalator that goes from the mezzanine to the street has been in operation at least 40 years. With all the money that’s being spent on the renovation, the design engineers somehow didn’t think to put either an escalator or elevator from the mezzanine to the platform for handicap usage. Who’s minding the system?
Nostrand and President Street has an escalator that goes from the mezzanine to the platform, but does not have one that goes from the mezzanine to the street, hence no handicap assistance there either. They've closed entrances that needed to remain open, or removed token booth clerks that were essential to the services. But what do they care? They don't ride the subway anyway.
Couple these oversights of the current incompetents, with the ever escalating bookkeeping and accounting errors and you have a recipe for disaster. In fact, please explain: How do you commit such and egregious book keeping error that you overlook a $400 million budget error - twice? And why are you still working? And more interesting than that, why hasn’t the federal government been called in to do a formal audit of all the books to make sure nothing untoward has happened to the dollars they are investing in the system, not to mention the dollars hard working New Yorkers are called upon to spend.
In fact, why is the MTA Board holding hearings? That's like the fox watching the henhouse!! Why aren’t we, citizens of New York, with our own legal team, holding hearings to determine what we are going to do with the MTA, their board, and the rest of the incompetents that are running the system, waiting for retirement so they collect their pensions and go home?
Remember animal farm? Well the animals are really running the zoo in this case, and we’re letting them get away with it. What happened to all the New Yorkers who stand up for themselves? Where the heck are we? This is like Wall Street robbing the people blind, causing the economy to tank, then holding hearings to tell the people how they are going to foot the bill to cover their incompetence and stupidity. Time to stop the madness and take out the trash.
I recently asked State Senator Bill Perkins if he was going to look into the recent fare increases and possible misappropriation of funds on the part of the Transit Authority, since that falls under his jurisdiction. He had acknowledged the possibility. This is now a formal request for him to do so, post haste, before we are splayed out on a spit and barbecued by the fares that seem to be increasing exponentially, each time they find out they’ve made an error.
The Department of Transportation and the Office of Management and Budget should find out where the $400 million plus $400 million dollars really went (hey, that’s $800 million!! - and why we have to eat it.
It would also be interesting to find out why they are still trying to construct a tunnel to no where - via Second Avenue, when a monorail could have been constructed and completed in less than 18 months, would not have disturbed the integrity of the buildings they are now preparing to evacuate (you mean after all these years no one anticipated this as a possible problem?), and would have provided New York with clean air rapid transit for the first time. Think about it -- it’s worked for Japan for almost a century; Disney swears by it; even Newark has one -- the only one we have thus far is to JFK. But if you do a tunnel, instead of a monorail you get to request more money for a sink hole and no one can really see what you’re doing.
Speaking of no one seeing what you’re doing. Those TBTA toll increases are a joke. The TBTA (Tri-Boro Bridge and Tunnel Authority) Tolls are the cash cow that has the MTA raking in millions in untold profits already. There is practically no way of really calculating how much money the MTA is really receiving, and the only books they show you have to do with the Transit Authority.
Back to who owns the TA. Though the Related Organization may think they own the system, it's really New Yorkers who own the subways, buses and trains that service downstate New York. Regardless of how it was started, or by whom, everyone knows the subways are the heart and nerve and sinew of New York City.
New Yorkers are being held hostage by a group of individuals who probably only take the system 1% of the time. While whole families, students, artists, workers, intellectuals, the people who make up this great city of ours rely on the Transit System. The Subway is ours. The MTA Board obviously has no real concern about New Yorkers, or the system as far as we the ridership are concerned. Their major goal is to pull as much money from it as possible. If they can come up with plausible excuses to do so, they will.
The Transit Authority belongs to us New Yorkers. New Yorkers, we are being jerked by the MTA! It is time to stand up for ourselves. Our New York News Media is doing a piss poor job of standing for us. They are more in the mode of co-signing the publicity from the TA than they are trying to get to the bottom of the incompetence. They're trying to make it sound like a fait accompli. Not sooooo fast!
It’s time to call for an injunction against any additional fare increases; call for auditing the books, and call for vacating the entire MTA Board and replace them with people who actually ride the system and have some knowledge about what it’s relationship is to New York and New Yorkers.
Haven’t we had enough of bearing the brunt of the incompetents that have taken us to the brink of disaster? Haven’t we had enough of people trying to balance the budget on the backs of the people least able to support it? They’ve closed token booths in essential areas. They’ve cut back on cleaning stations, buses and trains. They’ve closed station entries. Rats play on the tracks as if they are in a summer resort. But this is not because the TA does not have enough money, it’s because they don’t have competent in position.
It’s going to take more than just demonstrations, attending hearings and mumbling under our breath. It takes more than a wait and see attitude. If our local officials won’t help, if they won’t pay attention; if they won’t respect us, then take it to the Hill -- Capitol Hill. Take it to DC and let the feds deal with it on our behalf.
It’s time to stop the madness. Make the MTA Listen, and then return our system to the people system it was before they recent incompetent and the previous incompetent got into the game (and we are being gamed on).
The MTA is governed by a 17-member Board representing New York City and each of the counties in the Transportation District (again, WikiPedia). We need to replace all of them! And the new ones have to have had some real experience in transit (i.e. subways as a social network as well as a means of transportation) and being a true New Yorker who regularly uses the subway, train or bus to qualify to serve the board -- not some hand picked, political appointees who are little more than yes men/women and rubber stampers for an even more sinister purpose (that of having fare zones for the subways -- which, by the way is the underlying machination behind all this b.s. posturing).
So New York, as Brother Arsenio Hall used to say, "LET'S GET BUSY!!"
Stay Blessed &
PS I apologize for getting a little preachy. This has been roiling for a while now. So it had to come out. Please, if you have suggestions, expertise, or a way we can stop the madness (short of anything violent) please let me know. I am very serious about the Transit Authority remaining for New Yorkers and not some glorified cash cow. Thanks GDW).