While New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is busy suggesting that the state’s $5 billion surplus be allotted to an infrastructure investment package, local Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis is doing her best to make sure the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) gets its fair share.
“I am sure the speaker and governor will agree that any increase in fares and tolls is unacceptable and cannot be borne by commuters,” said Malliotakis, formally requesting that $235 million of that surplus be shared with the MTA to avoid proposed toll and fare increases. “If we are going to spend $5 billion on infrastructure, which I think could be a wise decision if done responsibly, it should help cover the costs of the MTA’s capital improvements so the burden doesn’t fall on toll and fare payers.”
Malliotakis’ move came on the heels of not one but two MTA proposals seeking a four percent increase in bus and subway fares, and bridge and tunnel tolls that would generate almost $235 million.
The local pol, a longtime vocal critic of the MTA’s capital spending, is doing everything in her power to halt the hikes.
“The MTA has mismanaged unsustainable capital plans and issued billions of dollars in bonds to pay for projects it couldn’t afford,” said Malliotakis, claiming that, historically, the MTA has taken on more debt than is sustainable. “These megaprojects include the Second Avenue Subway and the Long Island East Side Access Project, which is already overrun by 14 years and over budget by $6 billion. It is this type of mismanagement and reckless spending that has made the MTA the fifth-most indebted entity after the states of California, Massachusetts, New York and the City of New York.”
Straphangers agree, citing Malliotakis’ request as one that “makes sense.”
“I think it’s a great idea, simply based on the number of people who rely on the MTA every day,” said Bay Ridge resident Michael Williams. Williams spends Monday through Friday on the R train, getting to and from his job in Manhattan, and is already concerned with the “astronomically” high price of a monthly unlimited MetroCard. “If people can’t afford to get to their jobs, how are they going to make money in the first place?”
“If the city has the money to spend, why not fill the gaps?” asked another rider.