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Commentary By Nicole Gelinas

What's Really Behind the MTA's Money Woes

Cities, Cities, Cities Tax & Budget, Infrastructure & Transportation, New York City

As subway riders suffer through train delays and packed cars, the political class has hit upon the easy fix: more money. Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants the city to give more, while Queens Sen. Mike Gianaris wants a new tax on millionaires.

But if the first $15.6 billion a year doesn’t help, how much will?

A historical review of the MTA’s finances reveals that the authority is taking in a record amount of revenue. Just 12 years ago, the MTA took in $7.8 billion.

That’s right: The authority’s tax, fare and toll take has — rather neatly — exactly doubled, even as inflation has pushed prices up just 28 percent.

Over the longer term, the MTA is doing even better. Thirty-six years ago, New York decided to supplement the MTA’s fare and toll revenues with dedicated taxes, which were supposed to bring in $2.2 billion in today’s dollars (after inflation) and put the MTA on a sound financial footing.

“1981 was a significant year in the history of the authority . . . a year in which our transportation system halted deterioration and gained a future,” then-chairman Richard Ravitch said in that year’s annual report.

Today, the original taxes, plus several others, comprise $5.5 billion in annual dollars.

Read the entire piece here at the New York Post


Nicole Gelinas is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor at City Journal. Follow her on Twitter here.

This piece originally appeared in New York Post