2008-07-31 / View From the Middle

View From The Middle

The Inefficiency Of The MTA (Etc.) Is KILLING US!
By Charles Rogers

If I took the subway to work, I'd say, "The hell with it," and I'd get off the train and give up. If I took the bus, I'd say the same — and become a bum; anything to avoid paying the new rate increases the MTA is proposing.

I take my car to work and run around reporting on stuff for you to read herein, and that's okay. But, if the MTA decides to increase things (again), that means in order to visit relatives in New Jersey on the weekend (or whenever), I'll have to cross a couple of bridges along the way. Did you know that, in order to get to Old Bridge, New Jersey from Brooklyn and back it costs $18? Yeah — ten bucks on the Verrazzano and then eight bucks (coming back) on the Outer Bridge Crossing.

Eighteen bucks!

Am I complaining? You're damned right I am. The straphangers on the subway and the pole hangers on the buses have every right to complain from here to heaven, just as the drivers on the bridges and tunnels do. It's time to open the window, lean out and shout, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" as loud as you can (Hey, that was pretty good. I hope you don't mind if I copyright it).

Anyway, to explain it all — if the MTA's finances don't improve by the end of this year, it's a pretty sure thing the respective fares will go up because the agency is now dealing with a $900 million deficit for next year. They say the problem stems mostly from a steady decline in real estate tax revenues, plus rising fuel costs. Therefore — compassionate hearts that they are — they'll break up a proposed hike into eight percent next July and then only five percent in 2011. That's 13 percent within about 18 months or so.

That's too much; especially when it is the result of abject mismanagement . Let's face it. Even our esteemed mayor — who is one of the best businessmen in the country, if not the world, complained about it.

We all heard him say it on television last week: "Anybody who tells me they got a $10 billion budget and they can't find ways to cut five percent, that's just poor management."

Right now, speculation and word from supposed inside sources is that the eight percent will only make a dent in that deficit, but, totaled along with the next hike (five percent), will just barely make its mark, providing there are no setbacks.

Meanwhile, subway riders — even on the modernized, updated L line — are not happy. There are delays, overcrowding and general bad service, according to many riders. Same goes for the buses. We've all seen the buses leaving or arriving at the Rockaway Parkway station two or three or four at a time. And those tunnels and bridges? Tell me about it! Every time you turn around there's a sign that says "Toll now higher — Leave your first-born at the toll gate."

Something's wrong when highly paid CEOs and other members of management can't do with what they have. The economy stinks, er, leaves a lot to be desired, I know, but we — the New York public — are coping. We're holding our heads above water as we face life with its hardships. Maybe the MTA would be wiser if they sat back and decided to clean up a few stations where it's desperately needed and NOT spend twice as much money renovating the stations completely. Maybe we'd all be better off if they decided NOT to grant that millions-of-dollars Christmas bonus to the very same CEOs who got them into this deficit mess.

Word has it that the state comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, is thinking about having his people do an audit on the MTA — trying to find out where all the money from the last fare hike went or is going. I don't know why he has to just think about doing an audit. He should have been on the case all along. "The MTA has historically not done the best job of managing its resources," the comptroller's spokesman told The New York Post in a published article last weekend.

Without taking any blame away from the MTA, where the hell has the comptroller been for the past (at least) ten years? The same report tells us that in 2004 it was found that there were thousands — thousands — of "redundant" jobs being done on our trains, buses, bridges, etc. Now, I don't want to talk down on anyone, but do you know what redundant means? Apparently the people at the MTA and at DiNapoli's office don't realize that it means AT LEAST TWO PEOPLE ARE GETTING PAID FOR DOING THE SAME JOB!

Oh, and the Daily News got into the fray too when they reported Sunday that, since 2000, clerks were being paid for manning some subway stations seven days a week WHEN THE STATIONS ARE NOT OPEN! The article says that in the past eight years, the salaries of those who didn't have to be there totaled about a million dollars.

Let that sink in a minute. A million dollars. This is not a good way to manage a company, especially a company so important to the working public.

Oh, did I say something about the working public? I'm sorry. I didn't realize I'd have to explain that to the MTA's administration and the comptroller's office and the damned aristocracy and those others who don't give a damn about the working public — that's you and me.

Didn't we fight about this stuff 230 years ago?

Right now, every time the MTA gets in trouble, they don't even try to work their way out of it by tightening their belts and using shrewd business tactics.

All they have to do is raise the fare.

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