Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Subway fares, overcrowding, off-peak idiocy, clueless Bloomberg, and the insanity of letting people who ride to work in limos set transit policy

Hello, suckers! If you live in New York, you’re on the verge of getting smacked in your wallet again. Good and hard.

A big subway fare is in the works because the Metropolitan Transit authority is crying poor, even though they’ve got a billion dollar budget surplus this year. So says the New York Times this morning

Yeah yeah, I know a billion bucks isn’t what it used to be. But even with some of the crappiest Manhattan co-op apartments going for a piffling million dollars these days, a billion bucks is still real money. Or at least real enough to avoid forcing the MTA board to go to soup kitchens for lunch and sleep in cardboard boxes on a church step.

So what’s the problem at the
Metropolitan Transit Authority?

From their limos and office aeries, the high muck-mucks who run the system have decided to compete with Mme. Galzorist, the often off-base fortune teller on the block where the offices of The New York Crank are located.

The transit moguls say a money shortage is coming – they can see it in their crystal balls. It’s going to be caused by all the pension benefits they’ve negotiated, debts they’ve decided to take on, and an “anticipated” decline in income from real estate transaction taxes.

So okay, I’ll tell you what. Let’s say their crystal ball is 100% correct. Let’s forget about who negotiated and planned us into the financial tsunami that the Transit Authority insists is just down the road. Instead, let’s focus on some new stupidity.

Transit planning peak freaks

Some genius at the Transit Authority got the bright idea that while they’re probably going to raise fares by double-digit percentages, they ought to reduce fares for off-peak use. That way, goes the thinking of these geniuses, they’ll reduce peak hour use of the subway.

Small problem with that, dudes. Peak hours are peak hours because those are the hours when the bosses insist that everybody show up for work. Or the hours when everybody gets to come home from work. The average working stiffs have as much control over when they use the subway as they do over high tide in Upper New York Bay.

It happens when the boss says it’ll happen. So don’t even bother practicing excuses like, “Sorry I’m three hours late, boss. I was waiting for off-peak hours to kick in.”

Or better yet, “Honey, I’ll be home at 11 o’clock tonight. No, it has nothing to do with the blonde in the next cubicle. I’m waiting for off-peak hours.”

Transit capacity maxes out

But Transit Authority bosses are desperate. Says the New York Times article this morning:

Overcrowding is a growing concern for the authority. It is undertaking customer surveys for its subway lines, and initial results show packed subway cars a major complaint among riders. But the century-old system has little capacity to add service.
Which brings me to the next doofus in the New York Transit mess – Mayor “Mike” Bloomberg. As crankily complained about on this blog back on August 1, “Mayor Mike,” who takes two limos to the subway sometimes, wants to slap an $8 fee on drivers in midtown to keep them off the streets, presumably so they’ll take mass transit to work.

Mike, Mike, Mike, if the subway is already jammed just about to capacity, what’s going to happen when you coerce even more people to use it?

Right. You guessed it.

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