A day after the MTA's announcement of unprecedented and, frankly, surprising discounted fares between Thanksgiving and New Year's, the reality has set in. First off, the MTA is really trying to restore its credibility with riders by being nice; a Regional Plan Association spokesperson tells Newsday, "You can't take the politices out of it totally." Second, some critics wonder why the MTA can't put the money ($50 million for holidays discounts this year; another $50 million for possible discounts next year) towards balancing their budget inthe coming years? Policy groups tell the NY Times "Why is the M.T.A. engaging in feel-good, short-term gimmicks rather than convincing riders and business leaders that it has sensible, long-term plans for a balanced operating budget and a fully funded capital budget?" (Fiscal Policy Institute) and "There's no question that the most responsible use of the money would be to pay down the authority's unfunded pension liability" (Manhattan Institute). And, third, just because things are good this year, the MTA isn't ruling out 2007 fare hikes. Well, it's not like anyone who even peripherally follows the MTA really expected that - it's so dysfunctional. We can't always hope the real estate taxes will give us surpluses every year. We don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth (too much), but Gothamist would really prefer the MTA to give us subway service for Christmas. We'll pay the extra $1 not to be sent on wild weekend subway service goose chases!
The NY Times asks people how they will spend the extra money they are saving. Gothamist is a monthly card user, so we figure the discounting will save us $10-20; that's a holiday taxi ride right there!