Hands off MTA tax revenues
April 15 — tax day — is right around the corner and the IRS won’t be the only agency with its hand out.
In 2009, the state of New York joined a nationwide movement to impose special duties on residents of areas with mass transit systems — Metropolitan Transportation Authority taxes.
At the time, we were told that these taxes were needed to keep the vast rail and bus system serving New York City and suburban counties rolling and to make much needed repairs.
The taxes, subsidies and fares weren’t enough, however, to prevent cuts in service on subway lines and the disappearance of several bus routes, including ones in Riverdale.
At least we saw some activity in the construction of the long-delayed Second Avenue subway line and some upgrading of equipment and stations.
But the sword of Damocles over the heads of straphangers — the threat of a fare hike — remained and remains.
And now, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has decided that we must have short memories. We don’t remember that the MTA tax — not just financially burdensome, but a pain in the neck to calculate and comply with — was imposed specifically to keep our transit system afloat.
His 2014 budget proposal grabs $40 million away from the MTA to fund unspecificied state government operations.
Fortunately, the state Senate and Assembly have drafted counterresolutions to block Cuomo’s move.
Two rider advocacy groups, the Straphangers Campaign and the Riders Alliance, have put together a list of service restorations or enhancements that the MTA could deliver if the legislators succeed in protecting the agency’s funds.
And the No. 1 subway line is at the top of that list. In 2010, midday, night and weekend runs were curtailed. It is time to bring them back.
Additionally, the Bronx could get three or four new bus routes if the advocates’ plan is adopted.
They sent their analysis to top elected officials this week, including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate GOP leader Dean Skelos, our own Sen. Jeffrey Klein, Assemblyman James Brennan and Sen. Martin Golden.
Call them all, especially Sen. Klein, who may be facing a re-election battle, and let them know they should remain firm in demanding that Gov. Cuomo keep his hands off our transit funds.
Who knows, the MTA might even find the wherewithal to install elevators at the 242nd Street stop.