Comptroller Claims There's a $1.9 Billion Surplus in MTA Budget; MTA Still Planning on Hiking Fares

Categories: MTA Fail

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Photo Credit: joiseyshowaa via Compfight cc
This past Friday the state Comptroller's office reported that it had uncovered a nearly $2 billion surplus in its operating budget. How about those scheduled fare hikes in 2015 and 2017? Despite news of the surplus, MTA officials plan to go ahead with the fare hikes anyway.

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Officials to South Brooklynites: No Ferry (in Lieu of R Train) For You

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Ferry service hasn't run out of this Bay Ridge station since 2010. And now commuters need it more than ever
A few weeks ago, we learned that the R train required drawn-out help. Its purveyor into Manhattan--the Montague Tunnel--was still wrecked by Hurricane Sandy; the construction witnessed the worst flooding of any other tunnel in New York. As a result, the MTA announced it would close the tunnel for 14 months, starting in August, leaving commuters strapped for travel options between Brooklyn Hall and Whitehall Street. Now they can strike "ferry service" off their list of possibilities.

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Joe Lhota Gave Out A Few Raises Before Leaving; Who Said The MTA's Broke?

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These stories aren't limited to Wall Street.

In a Daily News exclusive yesterday, writer Pete Donohue learned that Mr. Joe Lhota, the MTA-chief-turned-mayoral-candidate, handed out a few raises and buyouts before he stepped out of office this past December, totaling about $253,000 in cold, hard, much-needed cash. According to the agency, the end-of-the-year gifts were a result of contracts made years ago that set these raises in motion. And, since these raises come at a time where the agency is strapped for cash, there naturally has to be a few details of the story that are meant to simply irritate.

Like the fact that the money was issued to the MTA's top executives around the same time the fare hike for millions of commuters was passed, which is really just great. Or the fact that most MTA workers haven't seen a dime above their standard wages since 2008. Or the fact that union workers now face wage freezes because of how broke the MTA is.

Gotta love it.

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A Month And A Half After Sandy, The R Train Returns To Full Service By Friday

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Wikimedia Commons
If the 12/12/12 concert last week told us anything, it was that Paul McCartney's Nirvana fill-in was something we should talk about more as a society. And that, a month and a half later, there's still a ton of work to do in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

When the storm hit two days before Halloween, the MTA's service used by millions of people every single morning, afternoon and night blacked out across the five boroughs. Free shuttle buses replaced subways for a few days and hundreds, if not thousands, of commuters were forced to walk or bike across the bridges that connect us. My bike hasn't been the same since that week.

Most lines were up and at 'em in a few days time; the L train taking a little over a week or so. And the H train was revived in the Rockaways to aid those displaced in light of the A train's collapse. But the R train wasn't so lucky: the train that runs from South Brooklyn to Queens faced with the worst flooding of all lines, with the Montague Tunnel - the underground passage below the Brooklyn Bridge - totally out of commission for the time being.

Except, to use a bad expression that should be expected in this story, there is a light at the end of the very dark tunnel. Say goodbye to your friends on the 2/3 and 4/5 lines. R train riders, you'll be able to pass to and fro Brooklyn Heights and Lower Manhattan by the end of this week. 


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MTA Drains Hugh Carey Tunnel: The Music Video

Categories: MTA, MTA Fail

For an organization that's so strapped for cash that it's given New Yorkers a "pick your poison" collection of possible rate-hike plans, the Metro Transportation Authority seems to spare no expense when it comes to the production value of its PR videos.

The video embedded above was sent out by the MTA last night. It's complete with some artistic B-roll, a charming MTA employee who just screams "New York," and a backbeat. It's also completely unnecessary.


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Give It a Few Weeks Before the R Train Returns

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Yesterday, we reported on the MTA's no-refund policy enacted in the aftermath of Sandy. Although no reason was given, the situation provided enough explanation: the agency was out a significant amount of cash flow and paying back all those fares definitely wouldn't have helped. So straphangers are forced to saddle up and act (with their wallets) like it never happened.

However, the MTA has another bit of bad news.

It turns out the Montague St. Tunnel, which connects Brooklyn Heights and Lower Manhattan, was flooded the worst of any of the mechanical waterways. Like, the L train tunnel was bad but this is really, really bad. We're talking floor to ceiling flooding, with water gushing in at the Whitehall/South Ferry stop and coming up a steep slope near the riverbank in Brooklyn. At one point, it was about five hundred feet from the Court St. station.


So, get used to hearing "There are no R trains between Jay St. MetroTech and 34th Street - Herald Square" for a little bit. Because, according to the Daily News, the R train won't be back to full strength for at least a few more weeks.

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Tags:

MTA, sandy, subway

Did You Lose Money on Your MetroCard Because of Sandy? Well, Sorry...

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On October 2, as a necessary measure for almost every Brooklynite, I bought a 30-day unlimited MetroCard for $104. On October 29, Hurricane (Superstorm? Is that a thing now?) Sandy barreled through New York, crippling electricity, homes, and, specifically in this case, the entire subway system. If we're looking at the estimated transportation costs (which, in terms of priorities, is nothing compared to the storm's greater damage), my wallet is down $26.

In a normal situation, if service is down on a subway line you depend on, the MTA refunds you about $3.50 for your troubles. But Sandy was the furthest from normal -- the subway system was closed down for days, and, if we multiply $2.50 by 8 million commuters, that's already a $20 million-a-day loss right there. Factor in the loss of equipment and the wages of workers who worked their asses off to bring back the subway system at a literally remarkable rate, too. What you're left with is an MTA that is out a ton of money.

This is probably the reason why, as of yesterday, the MTA has made the decision to not refund MetroCards for the time being. Or those who ride the MetroNorth and LIRR. And the explanation we just gave fills in the void left by an agency who is not giving a reason for the decision.
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Your MTA Card Will Now Look Like a Mini-Billboard!

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MTA
On January 25th, 1999, the first MetroCard vending machines were installed at subway stations across the five boroughs. Within a few months, the subway token was phased out of circulation as the simple swipe replaced the insert-coin-here system. We've had these shiny MetroCards ever since -- whether they're a single, weekly, monthly, or one you just always carry around for good luck, the gleaming yellow certificate with the blue MTA insignia handed you a swipe to see the city.

And, now, they're going to look like cut-out coupons thanks to a new redesign, brought to you by the MTA (and the Gap . . . and Domino's . . . and whatever other company can get a solid bid in for that pocket-ready ad space).

Yesterday, the first of the MTA's new branded MetroCards made an appearance at a few stations in Manhattan, like Union Square and the 34th Street stations. As seen on the right, it is a blue card with a Gap slogan ("Be Bright NYC") and includes the instruction to visit its new flagship store on 34th and Broadway. 

So this is what modernity looks like.

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Tags:

metrocard, mta

MTA Wants To Raise Tolls (Or: MTA Wastes $800,000 a Year on Idling Vehicles)

Categories: MTA Fail
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MTA: Pissing away your money one day at a time.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority claims to be strapped for cash and plans to pass its money problems onto consumers by raising subway and bus fares in March. It also hopes to increase the toll on the Verrazano Bridge from $13 to $15.

So how could an agency with a 2012 operating budget of $9.1 billion be hurting so badly for cash? Well, not turning off their cars could have something to do with it.

According to a report by the MTA's inspector general, released yesterday, the agency blew about $800,000 a year on idling vehicles wasting gas -- and polluting the air.

The report, which you can see here, found that MTA field vehicles idled for a combined 20,000 hours each month while Long Island Railroad and Metro-North workers were in the field.


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MTA Bus Driver Says Boss Licked Her Face

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If this is true, this has to go down as one of the worst workplace intrusions we've ever heard.

Yesterday, Nancy Jenkins, a 42-year-old bus driver in the Bronx, said to reporters at The Daily News that she was subject to a tongue lick that spanned her entire face: "He stuck out his tongue and licked me from under my chin all the way up to my eyebrow," Jenkins said, "It was just so nasty." Yuck.

The disgusting event happened after Jenkins visited her boss the morning of to receive her assignment at the Kingsbridge Depot. Apparently, the woman was upset at something the supervisor had said to her and, for consolation, he committed the act.

What's even worse is that the day after the event, which occurred on April 9th, the bus driver returned to work after filing a sexual harassment complaint with the MTA and the supervisor remained in the same position.

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