The MTA's newfound riches of $833 million (from unexpected tax revenues) met a chorus of different ideas, from no fare hike in 2007, more security, improving reliability. The Daily News say Mayor Bloomberg would like the MTA not to hike fares in 2007, however Newsday says that City Council Speaker Gifford Miller explicitly said 2007 fare hikes should be avoided and Mayor Bloomberg "stopped short" of saying the MTA shouldn't raise 2007 fares. Okay, we get it - the pols want to earn voters' good will by keeping fares down. Gothamist wondered why the money couldn't defray the planned 2006 fare hike as well (and the NY Times says the MTA could do that "if it chose to" even with its plans to spend money on other areas), but given that the MTA has serious fiscal problems, we'd just be getting higher fares in a couple years. If only they could sell railyards for cash every year!
And the MTA is also looking to eliminate 313 conductors from four subway lines as part of overall budget-tightening. Again, critics are upset at this move, because the conductors can act as another "set of eyes and ears" in dealing with suspicious packages and customer issues. The NY Times reports the conductorless (which is to say there will be train operators) trains would be the J (in 2007), 7 (2007), N (2008) and M (2008). The MTA might shift some of the no-longer needed conductors to platform jobs, like crowd control, but that's not the same.
Gothamist loves some of our train conductors...the one who says, as we pull into Times Square, "Time Square, the crossroads of the world," the ones who patiently but firmly tell people not to hold the doors open, and the ones who remain calm when the train has stopped for too long. And, in the cases of incidents where people fall or jump into train tracks, if the train operator is busy worrying about other things, will they be as able to react to these incidents? Yet another thought for what some of the $833 million could be directed to.
Check out the MTA's 2006 budget.