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BREAKING: MTA approves massive transit cuts!

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Brooklyn is facing a full-blown transit apocalypse — include massive bus service reductions and the elimination of an entire subway line — thanks to severe cuts approved by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board this morning.

The extreme measures, rubber-stamped by an MTA panel on Monday, then hailed in a 12-0 vote on Wednesday, stem from the transit agency’s claim that it has a $383-million deficit, despite the recent fare-hike up to $2.25 per ride.

As you might imagine, the borough’s power brokers went nuts.

“These ‘punitive’ measures fail to equitably spread the burden of funding public transit throughout the entire MTA region,” Borough President Markowitz said in a statement.

Critics of the Atlantic Yards project could not help but see a connection between Wednesday’s service cuts and the decision this summer to allow developer Bruce Ratner to pay only $20 million of his promised $100 million lump sum for the right to build over the MTA’s Vanderbilt Yards.

“Transit riders should recognize that the MTA cuts are in large part due to this sweeter, sweetheart deal the authority needlessly cut this summer,” said Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein. “It is not too late … to make the MTA strike a new deal with Ratner that requires him to pay what he committed to paying — $100 million at closing, rather than $20 million.”

MTA board members said they supported the cuts because of a state mandate to adopt a balanced budget by today. But several stressed that this is only the start of the process, and the agency will now fine-tune some of the savings they’re proposing.

But for now, here’s a partial list of the coming disaster for Brooklynites:

• The elimination of weekday service on the B23, B25, B37, B39, B51 and B75 buses.

• The elimination of weekend service on the B7, B14, B31, B45, B48, B57, B64, B65, B67 and B77.

• The complete elimination of Williamsburg’s Z line, which would force the J to run local.

• Reduced frequency of service along the A, D, F, G, N, Q, J, and M trains.

• The elimination of half-priced student fares.

• Cuts in Access-A-Ride service for the disabled.

If no savior emerges, the cuts would take effect in the spring.

Updated 4:59 pm, December 16, 2009: Story was updated to remove one suspected service cut. The MTA says that the Lawrence Street station on the R train will not be closed overnight.
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Reader Feedback

Doug Biviano from Brooklyn Heights says:
How City and State's Elected Can Lead

Instead of cutting MTA service, including Access-A-Ride and student discounts for school kids, and other vital City and State services, elected city and state officials can simply lead. They can start by petitioning the federal government to bring home the federal tax dollars of New Yorkers for these vital services -- MTA being a vital economic engine -- by ending, not escalating, war in Afghanistan. The escalation will cost $35 to $50 BILLION more per year on top of the existing and enormous military and war budget. When we apportion the lower estimate of $35 BILLION for the population in NYC of 8.2 MILLION hard working folks, the opportunity cost to our local economy is almost $1 BILLION per year or almost three times the reported MTA deficit of $383 MILLION. After eight years of bloodshed and corruption, the promises of lasting gains from a surge in Afghanistan to fight an insurgency (not Al Qaeda) are illusory, whereas the price we pay in local services, treasure and blood of our children and theirs is real.

Local 'electeds' need to finally make the connection of how these military occupations of foreign lands cost us locally. We can only be taxed so much. If almost $1 TRILLION per year are siphoned from our limited tax base for military budgets, war and misadventure, then the opportunity cost for NYC services and infrastructure investment is about $27 BILLION annually ($64 BILLION annually for NY State's 19.4 million population). Local leaders merely need to talk about this connection and quote these figures to the press, join with other cities and lean on our congressional representatives. Published and broadcast over and over like any other political 'talking point,' the opportunity cost is so alarming that Washington will have no choice but to buckle in funding our cities, our people. Economic security is true security and we have a say in the matter. Let's get our priorities straight. So what's it going to be 'electeds,' politics as usual or real leadership and representation?

One last quick fact: Just one of our NYC apportioned annual contributions to military and war expenditures of $27 BILLION would almost pay off the entire debt of the MTA of $29 BILLION, thereby creating an annual operating budget surplus of about $1 BILLION dollars which could be allocated to the capital plan.

Population for apportionment estimates based on http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36/3651000.html
MTA debt from http://www.mta.info/mta/investor/pdf/2009/debt_outstanding_091125.pdf
$35 BILLION per year for escalation based on estimate of $1 MILLION per troop per year in combat
Dec. 16, 2009, 2:06 pm
Bob from Brooklyn Heights says:
Sorry, Doug, but NYS and the MTA do not control war policy.

They DO control management of the transit system, and they are guilty of malfeasance for not controlling labor costs following the last strike. The latest arbitrator's ruling could have been avoided by a more carefully drafted contract, and by refusing to lift penalties against the union until all issues were resolved to the satisfaction of the public.

Getting rid of management fat would help, and compelling MTA employees to actually work a full shift would help too.

Giving away assets for just about nothing -- as at Atlantic Yards -- compounded the system's woes.
Dec. 16, 2009, 8:45 pm
Doug Biviano from Brooklyn Heights says:
Yes Bob, rhetorically NYS and NYC electeds in joining with a chorus of other local governments nationwide could, if they chose to lead, frame the wars for what they are -- wholesale robberies of local resources -- and make it untenable for our U.S. Congress and President to continue funding them. Local electeds, many with loyal blocks of voters, can also affect outcomes of federal elections. Thereby, local governments in conjunction with popular movements can control federal policy. Happens often enough. Civic leaders did it with Civil Rights. Mayor Bloomberg did it with handgun violence and he can do it with war if he chose to lead instead of slashing budgets.

But this would take some balls, so maybe you are right Bob. Very few of our electeds show any real political courage.

I agree with you on the Atlantic Yards giveaway point but I don't think the union is the main problem. Your proposed union cuts would be incremental or marginal change at best and would have unintended consequences.

Most people in the T.A. work hard and earn nothing more than a living wage. Many can barely afford to live in the outer burrows, never mind neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights. Many of the workers pay dearly with stress, unusual sleeping patterns, steel dust they inhale most of their lives and other demographic factors. My dad was a T.A. carpenter. He worked down on the tracks. Like many of his T.A. cohorts, he died a premature death from cancer at age 54 months after his retirement. My mom didn't get a penny of his retirement. Read the literature on the shorter life span of Transit Workers.

At the end of the day, Transit needs to be subsidized to balance the books and for capital investment. Always has and always will be. Oil and roadways are heavily subsidized as well. The real prize is a fundamental change in the way the U.S. prioritizes spending. We need to end our foreign wars and invest in our cities, invest in our infrastructure and living not bombing.

The only way this can happen, for cities to get the real prizes in the tens of billions of dollars annually, is for local leaders to start the conversation of the real cost of war in our communities. To date we have yet to have this debate for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Only then will the popular movements of "school-fare. health care. and transit fare, not warfare" be heard.
Dec. 17, 2009, 1:53 am
Lucy Ball from Kensington says:
It's about time, too much transport has been around for too long. Cut it, cut me, cut out!

More bikes, and fewer dirty subways - which are by the way, the perfect place for people to transmit swine flu to one another.

Buss-ooza people. Sub-way is sub-par.

Love,
Lucy
Dec. 17, 2009, 6:59 am
MisterConeyIsland from Brooklyn says:
Ah, good. The city has purchased a lot of land in Coney Island to revitalize it, and the MTA is going to eliminate buses to Coney Island on weekends (like the B64). Good job!
Dec. 17, 2009, 12:50 pm
Rachel from Williamsburg says:
I can't believe this. The B48 is my lifeline on weekends, to get from North Brooklyn to Crown Heights. What is the MTA thinking?
Dec. 17, 2009, 4:16 pm
Lucy Ball from Kensington says:
@Rachel - it may come as a surprise, but the mention of your specific commute from north Brooklyn to Crown Heights was never even mentioned during the decision making process. I know, what were they thinking, didn't they realize that there was one single passenger who liked this route? What could they be thinking?
Dec. 18, 2009, 6:23 am

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