NEW YORK (CBS 2) — There was a warning Thursday from transit advocates — higher fares and deeper cuts are on the way unless the next governor of New York forks over more money for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
But, as CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reports, Democratic front runner Andrew Cuomo has a message for them: forget about it.
Republican Carl Paladino wants to abolish the MTA; Cuomo wants to restructure it with the governor at the controls. But transit advocates say that’s empty rhetoric. New revenue is the answer.
“There is congestion pricing, there are other tolls and other fees, yes, that could be raised,” said Dan Morris of the Drum Major Institute.
Morris was speaking about a report done by his group with another transit group, Transportation Alternatives, demanding new revenue to avoid future fare hikes and service cuts.
“Many, many low and moderate income families are being disproportionately harmed by these fare hikes and service cuts,” Morris said.
But Cuomo said the old days of tax and spend in Albany are over.
“The answer is not going to be from the state more money, more money, more money because the state is not rolling in dough,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo said congestion pricing, a pet project of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is a non starter in the Legislature and he’s opposed to other funding ideas until the MTA gets its fiscal house in order.
“The MTA is going to have to do a better job of operating the MTA. We’re not going to be able to subsidize our way out of this problem. There’s going to be a need for more efficiency, more effectiveness, better management. You can’t have $500 million in overtime. You can’t have thousands of people making over $100,000 a year,” Cuomo said.
The transit report called for the state to contribute 20 percent of the cost of the MTA’s capital program to modernize the system.
“The first instinct has to be how do we do more with less,” Cuomo said.
The MTA’s plan is to have regular fare hikes every two years and there’s no way to know whether any governor can avoid that.
Meanwhile, Paladino repeated his call for a one-on-one debate with Cuomo. Cuomo said in the waning days of the campaign there are other things he wants to do with his time.