Monday, February 9, 2009

Cuza and Donahue get it - sort of

Coverage of the recent MTA "doomsday plan" and people's protests against it have been disappointing. Most of the stories talk about the human element: people that would be severely inconvenienced by the loss of transit service, or that would have trouble making ends meet if they had to pay the proposed fares. That's important. But a lot of them ignore the fact that the MTA has limits on how much money it can take in.

This Friday, though, NY1 reporter Bobby Cuza and Daily News reporter Pete Donahue seemed to get it. In their weekly transit review, they discussed the high turnout at the latest hearing. Cuza observed,

A lot of people, even when they come to speak they say, "This isn't really going to be heard, it's not going to make a difference." And the MTA themselves say that the real audience for this is Albany, because they're the ones that really have a say in whether or not to increase funding to the MTA, and whether or not these fare hikes are actually going to happen, and it just sort of raises the question whether these hearings really serve any useful purpose at this point, when really the message should be going to the lawmakers in Albany.

Donahue concurred:
Yeah, they'd be better off putting all those people on buses and taking them up to Albany, and have them scream and yell at the legislators. Because if the riders are going to get any help it's going to come from Albany. The MTA can't do anything; they can't print the money.

It would definitely be more effective to put them on buses and send them up to Albany. Or even to have rallies at the district offices of key state legislators. And that just sort of raises the question why our "transit advocates" aren't doing that, but instead are encouraging people to waste their time at these hearings.

Cuza and Donahue didn't go quite as far as I'd have liked them to, connecting the MTA doomsday plan with the Ravitch alternative plan for bridge tolls, or last year's plan for congestion pricing, and all of the anti-toll grandstanding on the part of the legislators. But then, the Straphangers' Campaign has been kind of quiet on that issue too.

1 comment:

Ben K. said...

Cap'n: You're being too kind to the Straphangers. All Russianoff, et. al keep saying is that the fare hike will impact the rider. Well, duh. Give us an alternative and use your position as a PIRG to get something done.

It's a sad day when you and I are being better watchdogs than the organization that purports to be a rider advocacy organization. I'd say their silence has been deafening on the issue.