By HENRY GARRIDO
Our city is engaged in a vibrant public discussion about the crisis at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
For the general public, the injury of dozens of people in the derailment of a subway in Manhattan in July underscored that the crisis is a matter of public safety.
Riders are also fed up with high fares and delays. The MTA’s track signals date from a century ago, when the subway system was established, and the constant malfunctioning from this aging equipment causes delays.
Straphangers are angry about the uncomfortable commutes in overcrowded subway trains and the crumbling infrastructure, including deteriorating stations.
Elected officials and public transportation advocates are looking for solutions. We fully support a progressive plan that Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled in August.
The de Blasio plan offers a sensible way to deal with short- and long-term challenges. The additional revenue would come on top of the $1.6 billion that the city has already allocated for subway and bus operations, in addition to its commitment of $2.5 billion for long-term needs.
Significantly, the mayor’s proposal would shore up the transportation system without putting a burden on working families. Coping with decades of stagnant wages and tight household budgets, they are already struggling enough as they watch the 1 percent enjoy skyrocketing income.
Modernizing Public Transportation
Instead of taxing all of us, the de Blasio plan calls for increasing the highest tax bracket in order to create a steady funding stream to modernize the transportation system and repair and upgrade its crumbling infrastructure.
Here’s two key parts of the plan:
●The plan would generate $700 million a year in 2018 and $820 million by 2022. Some $500 million of the new revenue would be used for expenditures on subway and bus operations.
● This new tax would only affect individuals with taxable incomes of more than $500,000 and couples earning over $1 million. This group constitutes 32,000 of the city’s tax filers — less than 1 percent of all the taxpayers in the city.
We believe it is ridiculous for the financial capital of the world to have such an outdated public transportation system. This hurts our local economy.
The crisis has stressed out the 5.7 million riders, including our members, who commute daily to and from work.
Furthermore, the MTA has eliminated 200 jobs of DC 37 members. The MTA should be building up its workforce rather than downsizing to deal with its problems.
We are thrilled this plan would help address the city’s inequality by making public transportation more affordable for low-wage workers — including some DC 37 members. The plan allocates $250 million for half-priced MetroCards, which would benefit an estimated 800,000 riders.
The plan is tied to legislation sponsored by state Sen. Michael Gianaris and Assembly member Daniel O’Donnell to pay for transportation improvements by taxing the wealthy.
In our new Gilded Age, the progressive tax for public transportation is the right step to take.
In New York City, where the bottom 50 percent of residents have seen their income drop while watching earnings of the 1 percent soar, the de Blasio plan is a fair way to address the transportation crisis.