NYS Legislature Passes MTA Bailout/Reform Package


mta-trainThe New York State Senate passed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority bailout and reform package last night, saving straphangers from costly fare hikes and crippling service cuts. The move will also enact much-needed oversight and accountability to an agency, which has been accused of demonstrating poor fiscal management and dubious accounting practices for decades. A forensic audit will be conducted by an outside body, which will provide the Legislature with the tool to clean up the mess and fraud within the MTA.

The final vote was right along party lines — 32 Democrats to 29 Republicans, with one Republican excused.

The $2.26 billion package allows the MTA to hike fares by about 10 percent to $2.25 a ride rather than the 23 to 30 percent the agency had threatened to help cover massive deficits.

The bailout also softens the monthly pass increase to only $89, up from $81. It adds a 50-cent charge for taxi rides, among other fees. The plan includes a payroll tax on businesses but no new tolls.

The bills were passed last night just over 24 hours after a closed-door deal among Democratic leaders because Gov. David Paterson suspended the usual three-day wait period designed to give lawmakers and the public time to review proposed legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith issued the following statement:

“A dysfunctional Republican Senate Majority combined with gross mismanagement by the MTA created a mess that jeopardized the transportation needs of millions of New Yorkers,” Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith said. “The MTA bailout and reform package we passed today ensures that families continue to have access to a reliable and affordable means of mass transit tomorrow.

“The reform provisions in our legislation will fundamentally change the way the MTA operates and finally end this cycle of threats by the MTA to raise fares and cut services every time their business practices get them in trouble.”

Added Sen. Martin Dilan, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee:

“Last month the State Senate produced legislation that addressed the MTA’s operational deficit at the time. I commend Majority Leader Smith, as well as Speaker Silver and Governor Paterson, for their quick action in ensuring that we now have a plan that bridges the authority’s budget gap, addresses future capital and creates a more accountable authority.”

State Sen. Bill Perkins said at the end of the day everyone won with this deal.

“The public is rescued from the draconian doomsday plan of steep fare increases and cuts to service. This is the right plan at the right time,” said Perkins, Chair of the Senate Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions. “The MTA gets needed resources, but faces new accountability and transparency standards to maximize performance. Most important of all, riders are spared massive fare increases and service cuts.”

{CBS Broadcasting Inc./Matzav.com Newscenter}