November/December 1995, p.3

Publisher's Letter: Cynicism

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Despite a heroic year-long struggle led by the Straphangers Campaign and bolstered by over one hundred T.A. volunteers who wrote letters, leafleted, and attended meetings, the Metropolitan Transit Authority approved the biggest fare hike in history, only months after voting in the largest service cuts in twenty years. The fare hike and cuts are the result of this year's alarming city and state disinvestment in public transit.

The abandonment of NYC public transit by Governor George Pataki and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is one of the bigger acts of cynicism and stupidity of our day. It hurts and offends on many levels and as public policy is great folly.

Public transit is the beddrock of New York City and its economy. Yet service cuts and fare hikes will mean fewer trips to movies and stores, especially by low income New Yorkers. Small businesses will suffer, and 80,000 additional automobiles will clog our streets each day.

The cuts in city and state support for transit are especially hard to swallow given the massive $2.4 billion annual subsidy that NY state governments spend to benefit motorists. I indeed, the MTA's financing plan is such a had joke that over the next five years it will create a massive debt bomb that will make the current $125 a year tax hike/fare hike look cheap.

There are plenty of villains to blame in the impending transit and transportation disaster: Governor Pataki and Mayor Giuliani are in the first rank. But what of the Democrats who passed the transit budget cuts through the State Assembly and City Council? What were their leaders Sheldon Silver and Peter Vallone thinking when they voted for more traffic, dirtier air, and a more miserable city? Were they thinking of pedestrians, cyclists, and neighborhoods? I doubt it.

The abandonment of NYC's public transit is wrong and we are working to make sure that our elected officials don't forget it. But we need your help. Be generous in your support of Transportation Alternatives and become one of our 3,500 dynamic members if you are not already.