This week marks the one-year anniversary of the worst fare hikesand service reductions in a generation. Last week, in a majorvictory for New York’s transit riders, the New York Statelegislature took a huge step to protect straphangers throughout ourcity and state, by creating a transit funding lockbox.Over the last three years, the New York State Government has raidedthe transit fund, similar to the way the federal government hasraided the Social Security fund. Lawmakers and the executive alikehave treated funds which are dedicated to our transportation systemas their own personal piggy bank, stealing $260 million from us,and using it without regard or transparency for the fund, thestraphangers and the MTA workers.This disregard has created an atmosphere where planning within theMetropolitan Transit Authority’s budget is rather difficult. Theirplans and direction for our system have at times been interrupted,or even brought to a halt, because they find the funding is nolonger there. And certainly because of this, New Yorkers have growntired of being asked to pay more for less service. Something mustreverse this trend and this lockbox is designed to do justthat.In order to shed some light on this practice, I introduced and ledthe passage of the Transit Funding Lockbox Act, S.4257, in theState Senate. My colleague, Assemblymember James Brennan, authoreda similar bill, A.6766, that was passed in the Assembly.This lockbox will guarantee that funds dedicated to support theMetropolitan Transit Authority’s commuter system will actually bespent for such purposes and not get lost on the account of otherstate expenses. By passing this legislation, we have createdgreater financial integrity for the Metropolitan Transit Authorityto end the days of simultaneous fare hikes and servicereductions.This legislation was rightly supported by a diverse coalition ofgroups, including transit and environmental advocates, goodgovernment watchdogs, and labor and business interests. Now, I urgeGovernor Andrew Cuomo to sign this into law and to stand up for allNew Yorkers who frequent our buses, our subways and other means oftransportation so to get around the Big Apple and the EmpireState.This is something that straphangers deserve.
Senator Martin J. Golden represents the 22nd Senate Districtand is a member of the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s CapitalReview Board.