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Memo in Opposition: New York City’s Proposals to Cut Aid to Subways and Buses

April 17, 2003

The NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign urges opposition to proposals by the City of New York to slash $200 million in aid to subways and buses.

The cuts come in two forms.

First, Mayor Bloomberg is proposing to cut about $100 million in direct aid for city subways and buses. Under section 18-B of the state’s Transportation Law, the city must match $158.1 million in annual state transit aid. The city is negotiating to cut its match; this would require state legislative approval. The Mayor's proposal risks losing state aid, since this matching program aims at leveraging transit funds from localities.

Second, the mayor has called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to take over the seven private bus lines now franchised and subsidized by the city ($98 million) and the state ($52 million.) Mayor Bloomberg wants to cut all city support — and stick the MTA’s subway and bus riders with the bill. These 82 routes comprise the ninth largest bus fleet in America in terms of ridership, carrying 111 million riders in 2000.

What will happen if these proposals are adopted? Even before the $2 fare takes effect on May 4th, the MTA is saying that there are no guarantees it will hold after December 2004. A $200 million hole would be roughly equivalent to 15 cents to 20 cents at the fare box.

And transit officials are already talking about “rationalizing” bus service when the private and public systems are combined—codes words for slashing service. If all city support is lost, there will be a huge incentive to do so.

New York City is facing very tough financial times. But it’s wrong to ask subway and bus riders to pay even more of the price.

The city contribution to the operations of the transit system is already very modest, especially for a subway system the city owns and leases to the MTA. The city provides only 5% of the budget for MTA New York City Transit —$242.1 million out of this year’s $4.8 billion this year.

Sticking the MTA with the ninth largest bus system in the US without city aid and cutting tens of millions in city operating assistance is a recipe for more fare hikes.

For more information, contact: Gene Russianoff (212) 349-6460

For links to articles on this topic, click here: New York Times , Sun, Post

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