Statement of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA
Before the MTA Board
February 24, 2010
I am William Henderson, Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA. The PCAC was established by the State Legislature to serve as the coordinating organization for three riders councils created by the state in 1981.
This month, the MTA’s adopted budget and financial plan has been presented as an information item, and the hearings to be held next week will deal with service reduction actions necessary to implement the year 2010 budget. Unfortunately, it’s also very clear that events have overtaken the adopted budget that has was presented and the financial picture facing the MTA has grown even more dire than the situation portrayed in the budget.
It is certainly necessary and desirable that the MTA and its agencies search internally for efficiencies to bring the budget toward balance. The commitment that Mr. Walder has made to take a fresh look at how the MTA and its agencies do business was long overdue and is to be commended. It is equally clear, however, that internal efficiencies will not be enough to pull the MTA out of its precarious financial position. Taken as a whole, the current collection of funding sources that supports the MTA is neither stable nor reliable and is not the firm foundation that this organization needs to provide the level of service that the people of this region require. Volatile real estate transfer and mortgage taxes, payroll levies without a track record, and revenues that can be swept away to solve the State’s larger fiscal problems cannot be a major part of the financial support for operating the MTA system. Neither can the ever increasing cost of paratransit and student transportation, which are already substantially underfunded by the City and State, continue to be ignored by our elected officials.
I’m here today to call on our City and State elected officials to move forward to create a comprehensive program for funding the MTA’s operating and capital needs, and I’m asking for the members of this board to communicate with State and City officials to keep this issue in front of them. Transit is an essential service. We wouldn’t fund police or fire services this way, and the riders who rely on the MTA every day should expect nothing less than dependable funding for these essential services.