Does MTA stand for ATM?

Dear Editor:

There are concerns about implementation of Congestion Pricing. Some believe that the Metropolitan Transportation Transportation Authority (MTA) is really using this as an ATM machine when it comes to how it treats taxpayers and commuters. Why is there no similar emphasis on the part of MTA Chairman Janno Lieber and supporters of Congestion Pricing when it comes to dealing with fare evasion, excessive overtime, burdensome state and federal Buy America rules and regulations, transferring of TriBoro Bridge & Tunnel Authority (TBTA) bridge and tunnel tolls to transit along with upcoming union contracts? They all collectively adversely impact the MTA Capital Program.

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Lost revenues due to fare evasion will reach $500 million for 2022. The MTA operating agencies continue falling to control excessive employee overtime. This has grown to over $1 billion annually. Future employee pensions continue to be calculated based on the final year’s base salary inflated by overtime. Albany’s “New York Buy America Act” and “Washington’s “Buy America” requirements add to project costs. This impacts the ability of MTA to get the best bang for the buck when spending $1.5 billion in grant funding every year from the Federal Transit Administration. The Transit Workers Union is sure to ask for salary increases to match 2021’s 4% and 2022’s 8% inflation. The next TWU contract comes up in 2023. Whatever the TWU wins, other LIRR and Metro North Rail Road unions will ask for parity. The MTA has only budgeted 2% per year.

Many who will be asked to pay for Congestion Pricing already pay for tolls on MTA TBTA bridges and tunnels. They are used to subsidize mass transit fares and capital improvements for NYC Transit, Long Island and Metro North Rail Roads. Every year, $500 million in TBTA generated tolls are transferred to MTA transit operating agencies. They are used to subsidize mass transit fares and capital improvements for NYC Transit, Long Island and Metro North Rail Roads. NJ residents already pay Port Authority bridge or tunnel tolls. Why doesn’t the MTA resolve all of these issues before pursuing Congestion Pricing?. Collectively they could easily raise more than the $1 billion promised by implementation of Congestion Pricing.

Larry Penner
Retired
Former Director
Federal Transit Administration
NY Region
Office of Operations and Program Management

 

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