Saturday, February 06, 2010

Bloomberg Targets MTA Retiree Perks To Balance Budget

I'd say that this is a good start. The MTA has long provided free MTA passes for its retirees among other things (which included free access for LIRR retirees for state golf courses). That means someone retiring from the MTA could get free bus, subway, and rail tickets in perpetuity. It's something that's been bargained for in the MTA contracts for as long as can be remembered.

But, at a time when the MTA is facing a $800 million budget hole - and the city and state can't afford to fill the gap, all aspects of MTA operations have to be examined. The MTA sought to close part of the budget gap by ending the student MTA card program, which provides free and reduced fares to nearly 1 million students in New York City. Mind you, that's how those students get to school every day, so killing the program would be a major hit to the students and their parents.

The union has tried to frame this as an attack against the senior citizens and retirees, yet under the current MTA plan, senior citizens are entitled to reduced fare MetroCards and Access-A-Ride options. That isn't changing. So, instead of a freebie on the state taxpayers, they'd get a reduced fare. Perish the thought of the union doing something that makes fiscal sense for the state; it wouldn't be in the union members' best interests any other way.

The Mayor ought to stick to his guns and get this done. There's plenty of fat in the MTA budget - and in the City budget - and no one can afford it.

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