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Links roundup—transit edition (with payroll tax cuts, old maps & Swedish fare evasion)

December 8, 2011

Five old subway maps worthy of framing, via Gothamist. (Click image for source.)

MTA issues

  • Governor Cuomo’s economic development plan includes a $250 million cut to the MTA-dedicated payroll tax for small businesses, and transit people everywhere are up in arms. The payroll tax was started in 2009 as result of the Ravitch Commission—which was supposed to stabilize the authority’s finances—and it currently levies a $.34 charge per every $100 of payroll in New York City and the surrounding metropolitan communities. Although the state says that it will compensate the MTA for its $250 million loss (from the revenue it expects to gain from new taxes on the state’s rich people), the compensation provision will only be written in to the legislation for three years. This isn’t particularly reassuring, given the state’s penchant for raiding MTA funds during budget crunches, and there’s no saying what will happen if the payroll tax cut results in more than $250 million of losses. [Capital NY] [TU Capitol Confidential] [NY Daily News] [Transportation Nation]
  • The MTA has some communication problems with the owners of its 23 privately-owned escalators and 10 privately-owned elevators, which has resulted in long maintenance and repair delays. [2nd Ave. Sagas]
  • Last winter, the MTA “forgot about” an A train that got stranded in the Rockaways during a blizzard. The admission came from Thomas Predergast, president of New York City Transit, who explained that “someone was overloaded; they were worried about moving trains, worried about other things.” This year, the MTA will have consumer advocates whose only responsibility will be to monitor stalled trains and buses during winter storms. [NYT]
  • The MTA is also trying to improve its crime statistics by installing cameras and driver-safety partitions on its buses. [NY Post]
Other transit news
  • The Automobile Association of America is arguing its case against the Port Authority’s recent toll hikes in federal court today. [Transportation Nation]
  • Transportation costs too much: “We are simultaneously spending too much and not spending enough. Because we mis-prioritize where the money is spent, we have inadequate resources for other things. We cut corners.” [The Transportationist]
  • A Swedish “insurance” company is encouraging mass transit fare evasion. [The Atlantic]
  • The science of sleeping on the subway. [NYT]
Transit cases
  • The Southern District of New York dismissed a lawsuit challenging the proposed location of the 86th Street entrance of the Second Avenue subway, holding that the action was time-barred under the National Environmental Policy Act. Having dismissed their federal claims, the court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiffs’ state environmental review claims. Yorkshire Towers Co., L.P. 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137965 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 1, 2011).
  • The Grand Island Bridge, which is managed by the Thruway Authority, charges discounted rates for Grand Island residents and commuters, and the Northern District of New York held that these variable rates are constitutional and don’t violate the Commerce Clause or the right to travel. Selevan v. New York Thruway Auth., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136068 (N.D.N.Y. Nov. 28, 2011).
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