MTA Critical To Rockaway Quality Of Life
There are two truisms when the question turns to the quality of life for those who live in Rockaway. The first is that Rockaway is geographically and politically isolated from the city in which it stands. The second is that public transportation is critical to that quality of life for many local residents, especially those who have to commute to Manhattan each workday. Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, who represents all of Rockaway, said at a press conference on Tuesday morning that 85 percent of his constituents use public transportation. That sounds high to us, but he is certainly right that the express buses and the A Train that serve the peninsula provide a vital lifeline to jobs in other parts of the city. Faced with a staggering $1.128 billion operating deficit, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the semi-public agency that runs public transportation in the city and Nassau County, knew something had to be done. What Smith and his colleagues have recommended may well be a dollar short and a day late. Instead of following the Ravitch Commission guidelines, which call for a payroll tax, a fare increase of eight percent and tolls on the East River bridges (rather than the draconian 30 percent increase the MTA had proposed earlier), in the Senate plan, the potential bridge tolls are eliminated and the payroll tax would be reduced from 33 cents on $100 to payroll to 25 cents. In addition, the fare increase would be reduced to four percent rather than the eight suggested by Ravitch and the 30 percent recommended by the MTA board. While we are opposed to fare increases of any kind, we believe that the Senate plan is a good compromise to both the MTA plan and the Ravitch plan. We can only question, however, if the Senate plan will raise the additional revenue to keep the MTA solvent. If not, then the next step should be implementing the Ravitch Plan for East River tolls. The MTA is too valuable for the government to allow it to fall apart at the seams.