Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tolls Everywhere

The MTA released its Ravitch Report which gives advice on where to get the money to fix the MTA's incredible financial incompetence. 1 billion alone on the Fulton Street station that never got built.

Anyway, here are the highlights:

East River Tolls - this one will get the most publicity. If you make the tolls both ways and revisit parking permits, I can live with it. It's not fair to Brooklyn residents that livery cars routinely go across those crossings to save a few bucks. Plus, I think it would eliminate some traffic on Queens Blvd because there would no incentive to take the 59th St. bridge over the Midtown Tunnel. What always bothered me about congestion pricing was there was no charge to leave. It was a cover charge.

Corporation Tax - Awful idea. Layoffs are already piling up and this unbudgeted cost will be a disaster. The argument that companies benefit from a good transit system is stupid. Commercial landlords benefit from a good transit system and charge rents accordingly. Make it a property tax.

Raise the fares. Yes, absolutely. We're the ones using the transit so we should be paying for it. I don't get the charging cars for us using subways. I want people to drive cars, it's more room for me on the trains.

Some more of my own ideas:

Rush hour Subway pricing: This have this in other cities (and on LIRR/Metro North). With track space at a premium, you should have to pay more for high-demand times like every other business. Try getting a good deal on Yankee tix when the Sox are in town in September. Rush hour rides are 25% more.

15% Salary cut of all MTA employees: Overpaid as it is, except the ones who work on the subway and buses. If any other company pissed away a billion dollars on nothing, there would be at least a 15% layoff.

Toll dedicated bike lanes: This one will land me in some hot water, but these bike lanes are built at considerable expense (not to mention cause a lot of congestion where they begin). Having a dedicated lane is a "luxury" (to use their car argument) that even ambulances don't have. We all share the pain and I'm sure Forest Hills cyclists would gladly fork over a few dollars a day to ride in a dedicated lane away from cars.

Eliminate the Manhattan Parking Exemption: This backwards tax break excludes Manhattan residents of the 18% parking tax at local garages. You don't need a car in Manhattan and if you insist on having one, you shouldn't get a tax break. Make the tax 30% (believe me, they can afford it).

PROPERTY TAX EQUITY!!!! How many more $2 million brownstone sales do we have to hear about where the annual property tax bill is $1200? Go through the property rolls one by one and phase them up to a realistic tax bill. If they can afford 2.4 million on a house, they can afford to pay taxes on it.

Out of the the above, I would get hit with the fare increase, the dedicated bike lane toll (if they ever build one in Forest Hills) and rush hour pricing. So, like I said, we all share the pain.