Written 3 years ago-2020

EDITORIAL The Hidden MTA Moneymaker for $6.8 Billion in Medallion-Owner Debt/ Professional Courtesies By MTA

“Let me tell you how it will be… There’s one for you, 19 for me.”
– George Harrison

One might ask, how does the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) pay for its $16 billion-dollar annual budget? The answer: We are all paying for it in different ways; they tax everything imaginable, except themselves. There are 12 counties in New York State and two in Connecticut where the MTA has been successful – to say the least – in legislating taxes for everyone living in these counties. Whether you are a teenager acquiring your first driver’s license or someone selling a multi-million-dollar home, or even a small studio, the MTA is taxing you.

The first tax is in the form of subsidies, with approximately $1.2 billion in gifts, given to the MTA from local and state governments. Those are our tax dollars! Some of you may be asking, where are the gifts for medallion owners? New York City Livery and Black Car drivers may be asking the same question. Every corporation located in the MTA district also pays a Payroll Mobility Tax, as do independent contractors (hello UBER drivers) and self-employed individuals. This tax brings the MTA approximately $1.5 Billion dollars annually. Income from tolls are very interesting because the MTA collects the income from 308 million vehicles, who use seven bridges and two tunnels under their collective (literally) eye. Just think of the income from over 300 million vehicles… it is astronomical, with estimates that could total about $3 billion, but the MTA stated income from tolls is about $1.9 billion.

Did you know that New York City also pays the MTA Bus Company $700 million to reimburse them for running bus routes purchased from private carriers? That $700 million is also our money. The MTA also has investment income. How do you have investment income when you owe $900 million? (Yes, the MTA budget has to include interest on the pay back of almost a billion dollars.) Simple, keep your parking lots, rental properties and advertising. Those incomes total approximately $685 million.

Keeping track of the income? It gets a bit confusing and abusive when the state of New York matches payments from New York City and counties in the MTA region through something called the Metropolitan Transportation Operating Assistance Fund. MTA shows $550 million from this match.

To confuse you further, there is yet another income-entity noted as the Metropolitan Mass Transportation Operating, which brings in $2 Billion from corporate franchise taxes, a portion of the state sales tax and a tax on petroleum companies – not to be confused with taxes on gasoline, diesel and the transportation of such. Then we have an Urban Tax, as though we didn’t have enough MTA taxes. This tax is on property transactions and mortgage recording in New York City totaling approximately $550 million. Don’t get this confused with the huge sales tax collected when every single home in the MTA area is sold. It is the law. And of course, there is an item called MTA Aid that comes from TAXI FARE surcharges and auto rentals totaling approximately $310 million. To add financial insult to injury, every time you register a motor vehicle… you guessed it, the MTA gets a piece of that as well.

Did someone say an MTA cell phone tax and an MTA Con Ed tax? I know they used to show up on your bills, but I cannot seem to locate them anymore, can you? This a real money being siphoned off from every cell phone and electricity user. Do you know anyone with a cell phone or who uses electricity? Hmmm… Then we have the most insulting of all reasons for the fares going up: Instead of showing a surplus, MTA EMPLOYEES and MEMBERS OF OTHER UNIONS (many of them anyway) DO NOT PAY FARES ON BUSES, LIRR, METRO NORTH, SUBWAYS, NJ TRANSIT,) or even ferries, thereby adding to the financial burden.

I had just paid a whopping $425 monthly Metro North/ Metrocard DEAL, after paying weekly ferry fares for the month of about $150 ($575).

While traveling towards Grand Central on Metro North, I was speaking with a retired police officer who has a pension and works in security in Manhattan. While I showed the conductor my ticket, he showed his badge. Then I noticed others showing ID, that I thought were paid tickets initially. The retired cop showed me six other guys in the same train car who worked for the city: sanitation, MTA, corrections etc. Not one had paid for a ticket. I felt like a schmuck. I observed at least half a dozen other people flashing their ID, as opposed to a ticket. Then I asked the conductor about this and he said it is a professional courtesy, and he and his family never have to pay for a bus ride or rail service, he just flashes his union card. It is an unwritten financial flaw that seriously jeopardizes the future of New York State and New York City.

There are over 50,000 MTA employees alone, not paying fares. This hidden reciprocal courtesy costs us real money, as in all those taxes I mentioned above. Is this fair when the rest of us are paying our fair share on everything taxed by the MTA, except the air we breathe? It is your call.

Fares bring in over $6 billion. But just think – if you can – that “union professional courtesies” for current and retired union members are eliminated and every passenger is forced to pay a fare, there can be as much as an extra $1.5 billion dollars in additional annual income to the MTA.

Why do people earning under $30,000 a year have to pay fares when a retiree making over $100,000 on a pension-plus, gets free rides? I believe if EVERYONE paid their fare-share, the MTA would have a surplus and enough money for the MTA to help New York City purchase back taxi medallions at an average price of half a million dollars. Then the MTA can start the job that they are supposed to do; oversee mass transportation in New York, which will lead to reduced taxes caused by this mismanaged entity.
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