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MTR Admiralty

Radical Plan Asks For Free Buses And Lower Train Fares

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From this week's Downtown Express:

 

Fare hikes? How about free buses instead, plan asks

By Josh Rogers

 

With state legislators starting to wrestle with a plan to close the M.T.A.’s budget deficits with payroll taxes, tolls, and modest fare hikes, an alternative idea to make the subways mostly free has been revived by two transportation advocates.

 

“We have a radically different plan that can capture the public’s imagination and pass,” said Charles Komanoff, a transportation analyst.

 

Komanoff is the chief consultant to the plan developed by Ted Kheel, 93, a prominent labor mediator who helped settle transit strikes decades ago and has focused on the environment in recent years.

 

Their idea is to charge drivers between $5 and $25 depending on the time of day to enter Manhattan below 60th St., in order to fund mass transit and reduce the subway fare down to between 50 cents and $1.25 during the day. Subways would be free nights and weekends and buses would be free at all times. The plan also calls for a 46 percent increase in taxi fares, which Komanoff said will be key to winning broad support in the city because Manhattan residents take a lot more cabs.

 

“We hope this will soften the objections of Brooklyn and Queens and will also generate more revenue,” he said.

 

Komanoff supported Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s traffic pricing plan, which failed in Albany this year, but at the time he said the Kheel plan would be better because the opponents to the mayor’s plan were passionate, while supporters were lukewarm without any sweeteners like free mass transit.

 

The Kheel idea, which was modified this week to include some subway fares, still has the power to get lawmakers to stop and take notice. Assemblymember Adriano Espaillat, who supported Bloomberg’s plan, was very resistant to Ravitch’s toll idea at a State Assembly hearing Wednesday in Lower Manhattan, but when asked if he would favor higher tolls with free or low subway fares he wanted to hear more.

 

“That’s something I’d like to review and consider,” Espaillat told Downtown Express.

 

He’s not the only congestion pricing plan supporter who’s resisting or opposing bridge tolls. State Senator-elect Daniel Squadron, who will represent Downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn, and Councilmember John Liu of Flushing both supported the mayor’s plan and oppose the Ravitch recommendation on tolls.

 

Squadron released a critique of the Ravitch plan this week, pointing out what was “on track” and where the public should “mind the gap.”

 

He said bridge tolls as proposed, “divide the city and do not deal with congestion except in a targeted area…. I’d rather have a conversation about improving congestion pricing.”

 

He praised Ravitch for emphasizing the need to improve bus service, and elements of his other mass transit revenue ideas including the proposed payroll tax of 33 cents on every $100 of salary, though Squadron wants to see protections for small businesses. Instead of tolls, Squadron would prefer sliding driving fees based on time of day and fuel efficiency, and other revenue ideas such as market rate parking prices for street parking.

 

Komanoff said one of the biggest problems with the Ravitch plan is it only reduces traffic by 3 percent and “continues the century-old disconnect between transit policy and auto policy.” He estimates traffic will be reduced by 33 percent under Kheel.

 

Ravitch, whom the governor appointed to lead the effort to close the Metropolitan Transportation Authority budget gaps, proposes tolling Harlem River crossings at the subway fare rate and said he thought that would reduce traffic some.

 

“I think it will reduce traffic some, sure,” he told Downtown Express. “But it will be reduced [more] because there will be bus service.”

 

Ravitch, who ran the M.T.A. 25 years ago and is often praised for ending the subway system’s decades of disrepair, proposes expanding bus service greatly before the new tolls go into effect. He was not aware of the latest revisions to the Kheel plan, but he didn’t think much of the overall idea.

 

“He has believed the subway should be free for a long time,” Ravitch said of Kheel. “I have spent too much of my life making sure the fare was kept where it was or at reasonable increments to have any conviction that at any point the government was going to subsidize the system enough that it’ll be free.”

 

Ravitch said he considered congestion pricing, but his commission went with tolls and payroll taxes because it would generate a lot more money, $2.1 billion a year, and because of all of the opposition to the Bloomberg plan. The mayor’s plan would have generated just under $500 million. The Kheel plan, with more than a $2 billion subsidy to transit riders, would be in between, generating $1 billion for the M.T.A. budget.

 

Jeff Zupan, a transportation analyst for the Regional Plan Association, thinks the Kheel idea is “untenable” because Ravitch “has got enough problems convincing people to pay small tolls…Philosophically, I don’t believe people should get something for nothing.”

 

But Kathy Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York, which represents the city’s largest corporations, said the Kheel plan has something that is missing from the other two — an easy to understand reason to support it strongly.

 

“The beauty of Ted’s plan is people will get a free bus is better than paying,” she said. “There is definitely something to it.”

 

She served on the commission that made adjustments to the Bloomberg plan and was one of its biggest supporters before it was defeated. She likes all three plans and would not rank them. She described the Kheel proposal as a “more dramatic” way to reduce traffic and raise mass transit money.

 

Wylde said the Ravitch plan leaves room for varied pricing during rush hour which would reduce traffic more, and said the payroll tax is small enough not to be a concern.

 

Komanoff said although the tax will go to employers it will hurt workers more because it will cut into wages. “It’s exactly the worst medicine for an economy that is already in the tank,” he said.

 

He said free and low-fare subways will not overwhelm the system because the $1.25 rate would only be from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., the most overcrowded hours. Riders would only pay 50 cents or 75 cents by making a small shift in time, thus better utilizing the system, he added.

http://downtownexpress.com/de_293/farehikes.html

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I believe the plan is a bit too idealistic. NIMBYs would really scream at tolls and payroll taxes. A 50 cent train fare! That could encourage people to ride the subway, but at the same time... more crowding. The MTA has to gear itself up to have the capacity to contain a higher volume of passenger traffic.

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This is the most stupidest idea I have ever heard. All this will do is make people drive less often around the city and increase usage of the NYC Transit system which will cause more budget problems on the MTA. If New Yorkers can ride for free, why would they drive. If they don't drive how will the MTA receive the funds from said plan. We would still be in the same predicament that we are currently in.

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This is the most stupidest idea I have ever heard. All this will do is make people drive less often around the city and increase usage of the NYC Transit system which will cause more budget problems on the MTA. If New Yorkers can ride for free, why would they drive. If they don't drive how will the MTA receive the funds from said plan. We would still be in the same predicament that we are currently in.

 

Easy, my friend. Higher taxes here, a little congestion pricing there, maybe commuter tax over there, and BAM!!!!

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This is the most stupidest idea I have ever heard. All this will do is make people drive less often around the city and increase usage of the NYC Transit system which will cause more budget problems on the MTA. If New Yorkers can ride for free, why would they drive. If they don't drive how will the MTA receive the funds from said plan. We would still be in the same predicament that we are currently in.

Yes! With lowered farebox revenue, the MTA is in even more big trouble. Lowering the base fare to $1.50 might help farebox revenue, but when it comes to giving a free ride on the bus, it is a little too much.

Easy, my friend. Higher taxes here, a little congestion pricing there, maybe commuter tax over there, and BAM!!!!

Nah man, Y2Julio is right on this. Free rides on the buses are really dangerous. Look at the Staten Island Railway. Look at the people who ride it.

It is also a security issue. Consider this... because there are so many people riding the bus because it is free, anyone could board it at anytime. A terrorist could easily ride the bus and blow it up.

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I think the plan could, if developed a little more, be effective. I've always thought that buses should be cheaper than the subway. Maybe $1, and then like a transfer to an express bus, they would take $1 extra off your metrocard for the subway for your transfer. The base fare for the subway could stay $2 under this plan.

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I think the plan could, if developed a little more, be effective. I've always thought that buses should be cheaper than the subway. Maybe $1, and then like a transfer to an express bus, they would take $1 extra off your metrocard for the subway for your transfer. The base fare for the subway could stay $2 under this plan.

 

Sounds a bit like MBTA with their fare charging system. The T costs more than the bus. But I would say keep the fares the same. People will choose to ride the bus more, (it is good for alleviating the subway congestion) and this will have a greater impact on the farebox revenue than if everyone pays $1.50 for bus or subway.

This seems a bit wild, but how about a MTA ferry? A lot of people are moving around via the river. The MTA could take advantage of this and it can generate revenue.

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This is another asinine plan. The subway system is already near capacity. It can't accomodate the motorists who would be forced to ride the subway. Also, the plan punishes people without adequate subway access. Small businesses would suffer.

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Well, stay the way it is, is better! I don't want to pay fares I don't deserve to pay. I feel charging transfers of $.50 to $1.00 between Bus <> Subway, Subway <> Bus, and Bus <> Bus is better. Tolls on two lane per way, per deck bridges should not have tolls or not have tolls more expensive than the Busses and Subways of $2.00 to $5.00. Also, I feel the commuter tax is ridiculous since the (MTA) and NYSDOT is also charging at home workers who may not even be travelling... Put more taxes on alchol, illegal drugs and cigarettes/cigars... Better for all! :)!

Why would people tax drugs when they are already illegal???????????

This is another asinine plan. The subway system is already near capacity. It can't accomodate the motorists who would be forced to ride the subway. Also, the plan punishes people without adequate subway access. Small businesses would suffer.

Very true.

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Put more taxes on alcohol

Screw you. I already pay enough for my booze. Why should they tax it? Also, if you are going to bash something, at least learn how to spell it.

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Screw you. I already pay enough for my booze. Why should they tax it? Also, if you are going to bash something, at least learn how to spell it.

Booze does cost a lot... laying additional taxes on cigarettes and booze will only piss people off more.

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Whatever.

 

Well, it would be better to prevent drunk driving and under-age drinking, than having cheap alcholic drinks. Since people under 18 wouldn't have enough money to buy them from businesses who don't care! Like, I get 7-15 bucks... Never above, (but I never buy alchol, drugs and tobacco related stuff), and I cannot pay for even two meals...

 

Enough drugs. I hate when threads get diverged.

 

I honestly feel that this bus plan makes it easier for a terrorist to cripple the bus system.

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Free busses & lower fares would absolutely be a good thing, as people would use transit more. It's a cycle & it has to start somehow.

 

- A

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Whatever.

 

 

 

Well, it would be better to prevent drunk driving and under-age drinking, than having cheap alcholic drinks. Since people under 18 wouldn't have enough money to buy them from businesses who don't care! Like, I get 7-15 bucks... Never above, (but I never buy alchol, drugs and tobacco related stuff), and I cannot pay for even two meals...

What does that have to do with anything? It's for Adults. Why should I pay taxes on my drinks? I hate all these "sin" taxes. Why not tax people that buy bottled water? They waste our resources and litter NYC with their empty bottles. That would make more sense than taxing alcoholic beverages. Don't even know why I bother debating things with you when you aren't even an Adult.

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You don't need alcohol, you do need water. I think anything that adds a load to society should absolutely be taxed as much as possible. Smoking, drinking, they add a stress load on people & the medical system & their relatives & so on etc. Maybe you should look into other forms of "unwinding" aside from alcohol, ones that don't involve carbon producing fermentation & toxic chemicals? I drink tea, smoothies, water, and other healthy beverages directly derived from natural sources with as much attention to its environmental & social impact as possible.

 

I used to eat those cup noodle things all the time till i found out they have MSG in them, same with most ramen type stuff. MSG messes up your body in very slight ways, aches, coldy like symptoms, even depression. I donated the stuff i had left to charity & have not ate it since. I actually feel better since i stopped eating it.

 

The human body is very complex and we are still very much in the dark about how it works, especially over long periods of time. Throwing random chemicals at it is probably not the best idea. Like i said, try natural fresh stuff, even chocolate or something. :)

 

- A

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Bottled water puts a bigger environmental and public impact than people that drink with moderation like I do. Plastic isn't biodegradable. Lots of the companies use public tap water paid for by taxpayers.

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The amount of carbon dioxide released in the fermentation process for alcohol consumed in the usa is larger than the automobile exhaust for all of kansas.

 

I don't drink bottled tap water, i drink water from natural springs. Our pipes have lead in them & a filter is too costly or we'd have one. Commercially bottled tap water should be banned.

 

- A

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Well, it would be better to prevent drunk driving and under-age drinking, than having cheap alcholic drinks. Since people under 18 wouldn't have enough money to buy them from businesses who don't care! Like, I get 7-15 bucks... Never above, (but I never buy alchol, drugs and tobacco related stuff), and I cannot pay for even two meals...

 

Dude trust me you do not know what you're talking about. Just stop, when you are caught "out of your element" the worst thing you can do is keep going.

 

As for the "drastic plans" - here are some of the things they can do.

-Cut some of the excess management in NYCT and some of the redundant support positions not directly related to service.

-Crack down on farebeaters. $500 fines for farebeaters of any kind, $2 is affordable if you can't pay it then you deserve to get slammed.

-Eliminate free bus to subway (and vice versa) transfers in Manhattan (leave it alone for the outer boros as subway coverage isn't enough out there)

-Raise the unlimited fare card to $91 per month...this will still be a bargain, and people who use Manhattan bus to subway (and vice versa) transfers will still be getting a bargain and still able to do what they were, only they will HAVE to buy an unlimited ride card for that privilege, and it will cost them $10/more/month.

-Raise reduced fare Metrocard prices to 2/3 of regular cost.

-$2 fare implemented throughout the Staten Island Railway.

 

realize it won't be the most popular but these will certainly help long term more than cutting service...

 

signed,

-a 30 day unlimited metrocard user..

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Dude trust me you do not know what you're talking about. Just stop, when you are caught "out of your element" the worst thing you can do is keep going.

 

As for the "drastic plans" - here are some of the things they can do.

-Cut some of the excess management in NYCT and some of the redundant support positions not directly related to service.

-Crack down on farebeaters. $500 fines for farebeaters of any kind, $2 is affordable if you can't pay it then you deserve to get slammed.

-Eliminate free bus to subway (and vice versa) transfers in Manhattan (leave it alone for the outer boros as subway coverage isn't enough out there)

-Raise the unlimited fare card to $91 per month...this will still be a bargain, and people who use Manhattan bus to subway (and vice versa) transfers will still be getting a bargain and still able to do what they were, only they will HAVE to buy an unlimited ride card for that privilege, and it will cost them $10/more/month.

-Raise reduced fare Metrocard prices to 2/3 of regular cost.

-$2 fare implemented throughout the Staten Island Railway.

 

realize it won't be the most popular but these will certainly help long term more than cutting service...

 

signed,

-a 30 day unlimited metrocard user..

 

Sounds great but, I think it needs other sources of income in order to have this plan. Not trying to be mean to the elderly, but I would suggest racking the reduced fare to 75% of the normal fare.

I hate to say it, but students should pay their share of riding the train. There are millions of students who have free metrocards. As I heard, the adults pay for the students who use the free metrocards.

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There two types of student Metrocards. A free full fare Metrocard and a half-fare Metrocard.

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