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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted — narrowly — last week to revoke thousands of E-ZPass privileges from nearly 100 agencies. Most of the passes are used in cars belonging to the City of New York. A few belong to Nassau and Suffolk counties.
The MTA says the measure will generate a savings of $10 million dollars annually and will help to close an expected $1 billion budget gap next year.
We don't have much confidence in the MTA's accounting. But even if we did, the savings that the MTA is projecting are nothing but smoke and mirrors. The taxpayer will now have to pay when police cars, ambulances and fire trucks cross a bridge or use a tunnel. With city agencies already asked to cut their budgets by 2.5 percent, this will create an added burden without creating any benefit whatsoever. It could very well mean fewer firefighters in the local house and fewer police on neighborhood streets.
At the moment there are no real costs associated with E-ZPass privilege. However, there is a loss of potential income. But asking the taxpayer to foot the bill so government cars can access the bridges that the taxpayers paid to build does not make sense. The MTA is robbing Peter to pay Paul and pretending that this is good government.
This is the same MTA that gave free E-ZPasses to its managers and retirees to use in their personal cars. All five of the MTA board members appointed by the mayor to represent the city voted against the change, but they lost to the six other members.
Not surprisingly, MTA chief Elliot Sander and Board Vice Chairman David Mack, who represents Nassau County, supported the change. Said Sander, "I'm not happy about having to do this, but it's something we need to do given the current state of the MTA's financing."
We beg to differ. City Hall hit the nail on the head when it said, "If they wanted more money, they should be forthright and ask, instead of lamely disguising this as E-ZPass reform. The MTA should get their own house in order before they start charging police cars, fire trucks and ambulances tolls while they are protecting the public."
Maybe the time has come for a revolt. The city should take over the bridges and tunnels and pull the rug out from under the highly paid MTA bosses. Then it wouldn't have to charge itself.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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