Source: Allen81 / Flickr

Source: Allen81 / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: It’s a last resort, because the MTA makes it that way.

It’s just another example of MTA hypocrisy. Tell people to leave their car at home and use mass transit whenever possible, yet do little to make transit more enticing, such as opening closed station entrances. Most passengers use mass transit because they have no other choice. If your trip is too far for it to be comfortable to walk or cycle, your remaining choices — if you don’t have access to an automobile — are cab or car service, of if you do, the car or a bus. Taxis are prohibitively expensive for one person making a long trip. Express buses are limited in their destinations and are also not cheap. If parking is scarce near your destination or is prohibitively expensive, then the subway and or local, limited or Select Bus Service (SBS) are the only choices left. It is the choice of last resort for most. Few make the decision to leave their car at home if parking is not a problem. Why?

It is because trains are often crowded and uncomfortable and buses are slow and service is unreliable. Yes, the MTA has a limited budget, but many problems could be solved without great expense, but with more concern for the passenger. They waste far too much money of what they do have. I have written before about the MTA’s misplaced priorities and real estate boondoggles, and have given examples of how poor long range planning has resulted in a waste of resources. The biggest example is the boondoggle known as East Side Access, which will save some Long Island riders 20 minutes by increasing access to the East Side of Manhattan, but will make service worse for Brooklynites traveling to Long Island by forcing all riders to always transfer at Jamaica using an inconvenient transfer.

This project was conceived and started more than 50 years ago. The East River tunnels were completed more than 40 years ago, and have yet to see revenue service. Opening date is always five years away and the MTA or the riders have yet to reap any benefits. The scope and cost of the project is constantly increasing and the opening date continues to be postponed. No one can get me to believe that that many mistakes have not been made or that much money has not been wasted along the way. Yes, there are always unforeseen circumstances in such massive projects and some delays will occur, but did anyone foresee the project taking this long? No. One must ask was the entire scope of the project necessary given all the other MTA needs?

The Subways

Subway trains have always been crowded during rush hours. Now, with the greatest amount of ridership since World War II, and much fewer route miles and stations with the elimination of many elevated lines, they are more crowded than ever. Deferred maintenance since the 1950s, which continued into the mid-1980s long after the MTA took over the subways in 1968, now results in dozens of stations shut down each weekend. That forces inconvenient reroutes for passengers doubling trip times. Even with Fastrack, there is no end in sight to these repairs. Once limited to overnight hours or a few weekday afternoons on a few lines, today there are times when nearly half the system is affected by repair work. It’s just another reason not to leave your car at home.

In 2010, the MTA instituted massive service cutbacks that mainly affected bus lines and increased subway crowding. Some bus routes were restored, but changing the crowding standards to ensure fewer riders get a seat intentionally increased off-peak subway crowding. Is that what you want to do to encourage more ridership? Of course not. When I was a child in the 1960s, alternate Brighton expresses were removed from service at Brighton Beach beginning at 6:00 p.m. Today, they start taking trains out of service at 5:00 p.m. That is because many lines used to operate at maximum capacity for the entire rush hour period from about 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Today, there is less service during the shoulder periods and there is maximum capacity only for the peak 30 or 45 minutes.

I recently took the Q train after 11:00 p.m. on a weekday night and was amazed to see rush hour crowding conditions near Times Square, with standees all the way from there until Church Avenue. A week later, a friend of mine rode the Q close to midnight and reported the same conditions. Why? It is because the B ceases operation shortly after 10:00 p.m. when it needs to operate until midnight.

If the MTA truly wants you to leave your car at home, they would at least see that you get a seat at that time of night. Any wonder why a group of people traveling together would rather opt for a taxi, especially in Manhattan?

The Buses

Why after waiting 30 or 40 minutes for a bus, should you have to wait another 10 or 15 minutes because the first bus, which may even have seats, has its “Next Bus Please” sign displayed? That is because in an attempt to reduce bus driver overtime and get a late bus into its proper place, the MTA will instruct drivers to only stop to discharge passengers. Why is this wrong? It is because after waiting so long for a bus, you should not have to unnecessarily wait any longer.

Passengers are concerned with buses and trains arriving at regular intervals. They aren’t concerned if all buses are 10 minutes late. However, the MTA is very concerned about this because it means having to pay overtime, unless trips are cut short. So if avoiding overtime results in worse passenger service, so be it.

That is not to say there aren’t legitimate reasons for the “Next Bus Please” sign. Yes, if two buses are traveling together, and one is late, the late bus should attempt to get back on schedule, and skipping stops is an acceptable strategy to accomplish this. However, to use this technique when no other buses are nearby shows a greater concern for minimizing operating costs than serving the passengers better.

That is exactly what happened to me a few weeks ago on the B49. I needed to buy a few small items at Doody’s. I could easily have driven there and parked for free. I probably could have made the entire round trip in 30 minutes. However, it was a nice day and I figured I could use the exercise by walking one way and taking the bus back. So I waited for the bus for my return trip at Avenue Z and East 18th Street. A B4 arrived after several minutes. I decided to let it pass, because I still would have had to walk halfway home and now I was tired from the heat. In the other direction a B4, B36 and two B49s arrived while I was still waiting for my B49. Two more B36s came in my direction, but still no B49.

After about 30 minutes, I asked another passenger to consult BusTime since for some reason my cell phone refused to connect me. BusTime showed a B4 0.8 miles away, two B49s 1.8 miles away, and a third B49 2.8 miles away. Ten minutes later, the B4 arrived. A few minutes later, a B49 arrived with its “Next Bus Please” sign and a few standees. Another five minutes later, the pair of B49s arrived. That meant the wait on the B49 was at least 45 minutes just before noon on a weekday. Forty-five minute to one hour waits are not unusual for local buses although they may be scheduled to arrive every 10 minutes. Yet another reason, not to leave your car home and rely on the bus.

Next week: How the MTA’s newest bus routes have been far from successful.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

Disclaimer: The above is an opinion column and may not represent the thoughts or position of Sheepshead Bites. Based upon their expertise in their respective fields, our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work, and their submissions are edited only for length, grammar and clarity. If you would like to submit an opinion piece or become a regularly featured contributor, please e-mail nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

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  • Subway Stinker

    I have been advocating 24/7 B service for several years; I am glad to see the Author repeat this important improvement in service. Twelve years ago, mayor Bloomberg began his Jihad against cars and, among other things, made many parking spaces in Manhattan that had been Legal on Saturdays suddenly Prohibited except on Sunday. He succeeded in stopping me from driving into the city on Saturdays and now I take very crowded Q trains that add at least an hour to my trips. The Social Contract says if Government takes away something (free parking) it should give back something (better train service). Alas, that did not happen. Bus service seems to be particularly immune to improvement despite all sorts of tinkering and adjustments, usually for the worse.

    • Allan Rosen

      And when anyone mentions that bus service is not getting better, the response is that Select Bus Service will fix everything when SBS routes when completed still will account for only a handful of routes like 10 or 15 out of 200.

    • sonicboy678

      That’s because it’s not the City’s position to add trains. You’re misinterpreting this.

    • gustaajedrez

      24/7 B service is way overkill. Allan is asking for the B to run until midnight on weekdays instead of 10PM.

      Though TBH, wouldn’t it be more efficient to just add more Q service instead? I don’t think the extra capacity is needed along CPW, and the distance from Coney Island to 57th is a lot (well, a few miles) shorter than the distance from Brighton Beach to 145th.

      • Allan Rosen

        True, but you also have to look at how motorman and conductors are paid. The distance is less, but the extra pay hours for operating more Qs may not be less than adding B service.

        I agree that 24/7 would be overkill.

      • Andrew

        The B used to stop running at 9:30; it was extended to 11 in 2008. The first and last car of the Q are crowded past that point (call it the Church Avenue effect), but I haven’t had trouble finding space in the rest of the train.

        • Allan Rosen

          The B train was not extended to 11PM unless you are at the end of the route. The last one southbound arrives around 10:30 at Broadway Lafayette, which means it leaves it’s northern terminal before 10 PM. And more than just the first and last car are crowded on the Q after the B stops running.

          • Andrew

            The last B in each direction used to reach its terminals at 9:54 and 9:37. The last B in each direction now reaches its terminals at 11:08 and 10:55. Seven round trips were added in each direction. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to say that the B runs until 11 (given that, in fact, it runs until 11:08).

            In my experience, the end cars of the Q are significantly more crowded than the rest of the train at that time of evening until the train reaches Church. I obviously can’t guarantee anything, but if you want a significantly better chance of getting a seat before Church, I suggest you ride closer to the middle of the train, even if it means you’ll have a slightly longer walk to the exit at Brighton Beach.

          • Allan Rosen

            I usually ride the last or next to last car. At Atlantic Avenue I observed train entering the station with crowding in all the cars, not only the end cars. The cars empty out at different rates at different stations. For example, the first car empties out at Church Avenue.

            As far as it being reasonable to state the train runs until 11, that is certainly misleading because virtually everyone at 11 PM will have already missed the train unless you are going north to 145 St and getting on at 125 St. Saying 10:30 woud be more accurate (but still not correct) because you can still get it going south at Herald Square or points south or north at West 4th Street and points north.

            You are engaging in the same type of half truths the MTA is known for.

          • Andrew

            The guideline for off-peak loading is not “what Allan Rosen thinks is crowded.” It is, rather, 125% of a seated load. If the average car of the average train in the late evening exceeds 125% of a seated load, then, certainly, service should be added – but I don’t think loads are anywhere close to that, on average.

            Church Avenue has exits at both ends, and both are very busy. A lot of people get off at both the front and back of the train – less so in the middle. You’ll have a better chance of getting a seat in the middle of the train.

            I said that the B train runs until 11, and it most certainly does run until 11. I never said that signs should be posted at every station informing riders that they could catch the B train there until 11, which of course in most cases would be untrue.

  • JimJim

    Public transit in this city has not changed at all over the last decade, despite the fact that the population keeps growing. The overcrowding on the trains has gotten to a point where it is ridiculous. I know people who will take the train in the other direction to Brighton to make sure they get a seat during the morning rush. I’ve also witnessed more than a few scuffles in the last few weeks related to seats, space, packing in, etc. The MTA needs to stop spending money on nonsense and start running more trains on these supremely overcrowded lines.

    • sonicboy678

      Yet this “nonsense” still involves future improvements. Yes, the costs are bloated and the schedule is constantly pushed back, but that doesn’t change the fact that many of the problems now are meant to be beneficial in the long run.

    • Andrew

      Public transit in this city has not changed at all over the last decade, despite the fact that the population keeps growing.

      You’re entitled to your own opinions, but this is a factual claim, and it’s downright incorrect. While there aren’t typically grand announcements of these things (although they’re included in the MTA Board documents shortly before they happen), service, especially on the buses, is regularly adjusted up and down in response to ridership fluctuations. Since ridership has generally gone up in the past decade, most of those adjustments have been up.

      On the subway in particular, shortly after the full reopening of all four tracks of the Manhattan Bridge, Brighton line service was increased by 11%.

      Most Brighton stations have been rebuilt, and the new transfers at Jay Street and at Broadway-Lafayette have saved a lot of people a lot of time (myself among them – the transfer from the B to the 6 is a godsend).

      The overcrowding on the trains has gotten to a point where it is ridiculous.

      There are lines that are regularly overcrowded, but they’re the IRT lines out of the Bronx, the E from Queens, and maybe the L (and all but the L are at maximum track capacity already). A lot of our fellow riders have the habit of boarding the train and stopping, rather then moving all the way in. I find it hard to call a train overcrowded if there are large open spaces in the middle, away from the doors, or if one car is very crowded but there’s room on others.

      Quantitatively, a frequent line during rush hour is considered overcrowded if the average loss per car exceeds 110 on 51 foot cars (the IRT), 145 on 60 foot cars (the Q), or 175 on 75 foot cars (the B). Loads on the B and Q fall below these limits, even during rush hours.

      I know people who will take the train in the other direction to Brighton to make sure they get a seat during the morning rush.

      So do I. If you’re expecting enough subway service that everybody can get a seat in rush hours, though, you’re asking for the physically impossible.

      I’ve also witnessed more than a few scuffles in the last few weeks related to seats, space, packing in, etc.

      I’ve witnessed scuffles in the last few decades. Rush hour trains certainly haven’t been more crowded in the last few weeks, in July and August, than they are the rest of the year!

      The MTA needs to stop spending money on nonsense and start running more trains on these supremely overcrowded lines.

      There’s no capacity for more service on the supremely overcrowded lines. The Second Avenue Subway is being built to relieve loads on the most supremely overcrowded of them all.

  • JimJim

    And forget about the buses. They are a massive waste of time. MASSIVE.

    • sonicboy678

      No. Forgetting the buses will isolate many people, especially on high-ridership bus routes. Examples of high-ridership routes are the B41, B44, and B46 in Brooklyn alone. You also have the combined B61 and B62. Then you have the M15, Bx12, and many other routes I’m probably forgetting at the moment. Buses serve as more ADA-compliant vehicles than trains and serve as useful, albeit limited, alternatives to trains should something either go wrong or if the bus leaves you in a more favorable position.

    • Allan Rosen

      You have to remember that the trains do not go everywhere. Look at the numbers of ideas who do use buses and you will be surprised at how important they are.

  • Subway Stinker

    For decades, the subway system was downsized because of declining ridership, said the Transit Authority. So, we lost the 9 train, the W train, a full service M line and various express services. We also lost many subway stations, closed and abandoned. Take a look at the Brooklyn Bridge/Chambers Street giant sized station that has many unused tracks and platforms on the old BMT side of the complex. Now, ridership has bounced back and the T.A. has run out of excuses. The cheapest way to absorb more riders is to restore Abandoned lines and platforms, but instead, the MTA just wants to build new grand edifices.

    • sonicboy678

      The 9 wasn’t simply discontinued because of low ridership. It was because of the number of complaints from people that moved near there around the start of the current millennium. They hated the fact that certain trains would skip their stop while they would have to wait for another train to pick them up, then hope that the train doesn’t skip their stop. To put it simply, the skip-stop pattern wasn’t serving people well, which is probably the opposite of when it was introduced there, so the service was reverted to a 24/7 local service between South Ferry and Van Cortlandt Park.

      The M situation has a potential workaround: a J extension (after Montague reopens). As ffor the W, well, that one was certainly harebrained.

      • Andrew

        The 9 wasn’t simply discontinued because of low ridership. It was because of the number of complaints from people that moved near there around the start of the current millennium. They hated the fact that certain trains would skip their stop while they would have to wait for another train to pick them up, then hope that the train doesn’t skip their stop. To put it simply, the skip-stop pattern wasn’t serving people well, which is probably the opposite of when it was introduced there, so the service was reverted to a 24/7 local service between South Ferry and Van Cortlandt Park.

        I mostly agree, but it wasn’t complaints themselves that caused the service change, but rather an analysis of travel times (that may or may not in turn have been undertaken in response to complaints). The analysis found that the average rider was better off with trains arriving twice as frequently but making more stops. Ridership at the stations closer to the south end of skip-stop had grown, and those riders see no benefit from skip-stop.

        Anyhow, all of the 9 trains became 1 trains. Service wasn’t reduced when the 9 was dropped.

        The M situation has a potential workaround: a J extension (after Montague reopens).

        Potential but unlikely. The southern Brooklyn M was discontinued because it had very low ridership, and its most direct alternative, the R, had plenty of capacity to spare as well. (Lower Manhattan has declined in importance as a work destination, and ridership has reflected that change.)

        As ffor the W, well, that one was certainly harebrained.

        How is it harebrained to combine two lines that terminated from opposite directions along the same trunk? Capacity at the peak load points was preserved; there’s plenty of room for everyone between 57th and Whitehall, where service was reduced.

        In any case, it’s going to have to come back when the Second Avenue Subway opens.

    • Allan Rosen

      They built the Chrystie Street connection to the Williamsburg Bridge, then they abandoned it after a few years, only restore it in 2010. So what do they do? They cut the Nassau connection to te Montague Street Tunnel to further overcrowd the IRT.

      • Andrew

        The M was cut from Montague because it carried mostly air. It was a waste of limited resources. (There was a budget crisis, remember? The solution to a budget crisis isn’t to bury your head in the sand and pretend that nothing’s wrong.) The primary alternative, the R, had plenty of spare capacity to absorb every last M rider, and then some.

        Much as you may wish to believe otherwise, the Brooklyn IRT is by no means overcrowded. It isn’t even overcrowded with the Montague tube shut entirely for the past year, and it certainly isn’t overcrowded when the R is running through.

        • Allan Rosen

          During rush hours, the M carried a seated load. Other times you are correct, it was mostly empty. As for the R having the capacity to absorb every last M rider, I am not so sure. Do you have any figures that proves no one switched to the IRT overcrowding those trains even more because people couldn’t fit into the Rs? Of course not. You are merely speculating. But I always have to come up with proof.

          • Andrew

            During rush hours, the M carried a seated load.

            For a line running 60 foot cars on a 10 minute headway (like the old M was), a seated load is 37% of the rush hour guideline. (Source – Page 25, Table 2)

            There is no other line anywhere in the system that carries only 37% of the rush hour guideline. Given the excess capacity available on other lines (especially but not only the R), and given the need to reduce operating expenses, and given the opportunity to improve service to rapidly growing neighborhoods in other parts of Brooklyn while simultaneously reducing operating expenses, this was an obvious service to cut.

            Other times you are correct, it was mostly empty.

            The M to Bay Parkway was a rush hour service!

            As for the R having the capacity to absorb every last M rider, I am not so sure.

            http://www.nymtc.org/files/hub_bound/DM_TDS_Hub_Bound_Travel_2012.pdf – scroll to page 68. During the 8:00-9:00 hour in 2012, the R carried 6,858 passengers from Brooklyn to Manhattan on 10 trains. The rush hour guideline capacity of 10 trains in an hour, each with 8 75 foot cars, is 12,400 (see the earlier link). Even after absorbing many former M riders, loads on the R were at 55% of guideline.

            (Granted, the NYMTC Hub Bound study reports on entries into the Manhattan CBD rather than reporting on the peak load point, which for the R I would guess is either Union or DeKalb. Loads at the peak load point might be a bit higher than 55%, but certainly not much.)

            Do you have any figures that proves no one switched to the IRT overcrowding those trains even more because people couldn’t fit into the Rs? Of course not. You are merely speculating. But I always have to come up with proof.

            Plenty of people switched to the IRT, because the IRT happens to be the better option for some people. (At 55% of guideline, anybody who wanted the R could fit onto it with no difficulty whatsoever.) Fortunately, the IRT in Brooklyn isn’t overcrowded! Going back to the NYMTC document, the 4/5 carried 19,397 passengers from Brooklyn to Manhattan on 23 trains. The rush hour guideline capacity of 23 trains in an hour, each with 10 51 foot cars, is 25,300. Even after absorbing many former M riders, loads on the 4/5 were at 77% of guideline. And the 2/3 carried 14,759 passengers from Brooklyn to Manhattan on 17 trains. The rush hour guideline capacity of 17 trains in an hour, each with 10 51 foot cars, is 18,700. Even after absorbing many former M riders, loads on the 2/3 were at 79% of guideline.

            Did the R and the IRT get more crowded? Sure, but not excessively so.

            (This, by the way, is why the world didn’t come to an end when Montague closed last year – every single one of those 6,858 R riders could have fit onto the IRT without violating IRT loading guidelines, and in fact a lot of R riders ended up on the Manhattan Bridge trains and on the A/C/F.)

            Want to see overcrowded trains? Run those same calculations on the 4/5 from the north. 102% of guideline!

          • Allan Rosen

            “The M to Bay Parkway was a rush hour service”

            What does that have to do with anything? When I said the M carried a seated load through the Montague Street Tunnel, I was not saying it carried a seated load on Bay Parkway. I do not know how crowded the cars were on Bay Parkway, but they were just as crowded as the R leaving DeKalb. It became a seated load only after tons of riders exited at Metro Tech and Court Street.

            I also doubt your crowding numbers on the IRT, because when I used that line regularly in the 1960s and 70s, the Lex was aimed to capacity during the heart of the rush hour, just as crowded as it was between midtown and te Bronx. Only that crowding was much more pronounced beginning as early as 3PM.

            Since fewer trains are running today than back then, for the Brooklyntrains

          • Allan Rosen

            to be less crowded today, the numbers of passengers would have had to decline significantly like 30 %. I do not see how that could be possible since we are now experiencing the highest ridership levels in 60 years.

          • Andrew

            “The M to Bay Parkway was a rush hour service”
            What does that have to do with anything? When I said the M carried a seated load through the Montague Street Tunnel, I was not saying it carried a seated load on Bay Parkway.

            I was responding to your claim that the M to southern Brooklyn wasn’t crowded off-peak. The M didn’t run to southern Brooklyn off-peak! Aside from the 2001-2004 period, when Grand Street was cut off from Brooklyn, the midday M terminated at Chambers Street from 1995 until it was rerouted uptown in 2010.

            I do not know how crowded the cars were on Bay Parkway, but they were just as crowded as the R leaving DeKalb.

            They most certainly were not!

            It became a seated load only after tons of riders exited at Metro Tech and Court Street.

            Yes, as I said, I don’t think that Court Street was the peak load point, but even if M (and R) trains carried somewhat higher peak loads than shown in the NYMTC Hub Bound table, loads on the M were still very very low compared to the rush hour guideline, with the R not terribly far behind.

            I also doubt your crowding numbers on the IRT,

            NYMTC’s numbers, not mine.

            because when I used that line regularly in the 1960s and 70s, the Lex was aimed to capacity during the heart of the rush hour,

            “To capacity” as defined by whom?

            just as crowded as it was between midtown and te Bronx.

            The Bronx was in terrible shape in the 1970′s. Rush hour ridership between the Bronx and Manhattan is much much much higher now than it was then.

            Since fewer trains are running today than back then,

            Really? During rush hours, even?

            The loading guidelines weren’t developed until the late 1980′s. There had been no systematic means of matching supply to demand until that point. So it shouldn’t be surprising that trains were quite overcrowded at times.

            for the Brooklyntrains to be less crowded today, the numbers of passengers would have had to decline significantly like 30 %. I do not see how that could be possible since we are now experiencing the highest ridership levels in 60 years.

            The biggest growth in recent years has been off-peak. Ridership is up in rush hours, but not nearly as much as off-peak.

            Also, employment has been gradually shifting away from Lower Manhattan in favor of Midtown, over the course of many decades. That’s shifted demand from the Montague Tube and IRT to the Manhattan Bridge lines, which got a big service boost when the bridge fully reopened in 2004.

            Are you seriously trying to argue with recent data by citing your experiences from the 1960s and 70s?!

    • Andrew

      Which abandoned lines and platforms would absorb riders from lines that are overcrowded?

  • TrainsPlanesAndAutomobiles

    Amazing how many people are on the trains even at midnight. they’ve certainly gotten safer. However, they are getting more crowded. You’re right. If you want to get people out of their cars, they have to be given an excellent alternative, not just an adequate one. The trains aren’t bad, especially compared to the 60′s-90′s (yes, I’m that old), but are still not good enough to get long-time car people to switch. I suggest bikini-clad women. That and better service.

  • bagels

    Deblasio has big plans for huge affordable housing complexes but has anyone looked at the infrastructure to support this effort, namely transportation needs?

  • tinafg

    With all due respect, my friend…………. “Yes, the MTA has a limited budget”???? Oh please………. check their other set of books. These people are crooks from top to bottom!

    • Allan Rosen

      Ftom what I have read at SecondAvenueSagas.com the second set of books is a myth. I criticize the MTA a lot, but I also get angry when people make generalizations about everyone at the MTA. They are not crooks from top to bottom. It is a complex organization and people behave the way thy do for various reasons. Oversimplification gets us nowhere.

      I know the chaiman personally and he is definitely not a crook, but a good person. There are very hard working people at the MTA and there also are plenty of goof offs as with any organization.

      • tinafg

        You’re right, Allan. I apologize. There are some hardworking people at the MTA. People like me who work, as they say, “in the trenches” and desperately need their paychecks. They have good work ethic and pride in the job they do. I’m glad you know the chairman personally, but I wouldn’t give two cents for anyone on the board or anyone in positions of power in that horrific agency. I wish I could find the news article about the second set of books…….. I’ll keep looking……..

        • tinafg

          http://www.straphangers.org/diaries/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=132922&page=1 Ah! Here we go! Although it’s not a ringing endorsement to say that Hevesi found it………

          • sonicboy678

            First, that’s from well over a decade ago. Second, this was during a time when administrations were trying to treat the MTA like any other business (which still happens now, but people may actually be more aware that it’s not exactly profitable, which partially stems from decades of political pressure on matters like the nickel fare from even before WWII). Third, given his track record, I wouldn’t trust Hevesi’s “findings” for anything. Fourth, as one person brought up, it wouldn’t make sense for the MTA to cook the books given its nature.

          • Andrew

            https://www.nycourts.gov/press/mtadecision.pdf

            The projected deficit was an estimate of the difference between the MTA’s expected revenues and its expenses over the course of the 2003 and 2004 fiscal years. The MTA estimated that deficit to be approximately $2.8 billion. Even the Hevesi Report estimated the two-year deficit to be about $2.6 billion. Given that these are budget estimates, based upon assumptions about as yet unknown future income and expenses, the difference between the MTA’s estimate and Hevesi’s estimate is immaterial. The salient, undisputed fact is that the MTA faced a combined deficit of over $2 billion for the 2003 and 2004 fiscal years. The record thus does not support either court’s conclusion that the multibillion dollar deficit did not exist.

            It may be that, if the MTA allocated all of the 2002 cost savings to the 2003 fiscal year’s budget, there would be no deficit in 2003 and no need for fare and toll increases and token booth closings in that year. However, there is nothing in the law that requires the MTA to devise its budgets and financial plans on a single-year basis. Indeed, doing so would appear to run afoul of its statutory obligation to establish five-year financial plans (PAL § 1269-d). Moreover, as the Hevesi Report recognized, allocating all of the 2002 cost savings to 2003 would have been imprudent and would have only forestalled fare and toll increases for a year. In addition, the MTA’s assertion that delaying the fare and toll hikes for a year would have necessitated increases of 42% or more, rather than the 33% increase approved by the MTA, has not been disputed by petitioners.

          • Allan Rosen

            Here is the story from a Second Avenue Sagas.

            JUL
            14
            Is MTA transparency a legitimate campaign issue?
            Posted by: Benjamin Kabak | Comments (15)
            Once upon a time, Alan Hevesi, then the comptroller of New York State, fired a complaint at the MTA that the agency had been maintaining two sets of books. Claiming that the MTA hid $500 million in order to justify a fare hike, Hevesi leveled this charge at a time public sentiment toward the MTA was at a low, and it stuck. The MTA’s bookkeeping had been sloppy, but not illegally so. A judge eventually found no wrong-doing or evidence to back Hevesi’s claim, and the comptroller himself wound up in jail for his own fiscal improprieties.
            Still, the idea that the MTA has two sets of books has been an enduring and popular myth. The public can easily latch onto it because they don’t feel the MTA is own their side, and politicians use it to curry favor with disgruntled voters. It came up in both 2009 and 2010, and now that a potential mayoral candidate is riding the coattails of his time with the MTA, in essence, it is resurfacing again this year.”

        • Allan Rosen

          There are no more than two or three good people on the Board. The problem is when anyone speaks out and doesn’t go along with the rest of the Board like Norman Seabrook who opposed the 2010 cutbacks saying the MTA didn’t look hard enough to find the money to keep the buses and trains running, they don’t get reappointed.

          In 1993, I had to go to every Board meeting and I was amazed to see the number of Board members who just didn’t care about the riders. Only two or three seemed to be responsible Board Members.

          Since then they added someone to represent the riders after numerous complaints about the Board members who represent the banking and real estate interests but not the riders. But they won’t let him vote. That alone ought to tell you what the MTA thinks about its riders.

          • tinafg

            So. I’m technically right…….. From the Board on down!

          • Allan Rosen

            You are right about the Board. But I wouldn’t agree that you are correct all the way down.

          • Andrew

            Figures that you’d like Norman Seabrook and Andrew Albert, who don’t understand what fiduciary responsibility means.

          • Allan Rosen

            Of course you woudn’t like anyone who speaks up for the transit rider. Because all you do is defend the MTA. How much again do they pay you for doing that?

          • Andrew

            Transit riders are best served by a transit system that can pay its bills. Ignoring one’s fiduciary responsibility serves no one.

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