The MTA is looking to pull the old “okey doke” on NYC Transit riders. While it is not uncommon for the MTA to threaten service cuts in the face of a budget deficit, what they are attempting to do this time is incredibly bold, hypocritical, and unfortunately unnoticed by the mainstream media. The MTA is threatening service cuts (as well as fare hikes) on NYC subways and buses, while simultaneously planning the largest service increase in Long Island Railroad history of 41%.
In recent weeks there have been a flurry of news articles about the MTA claiming that there will be a huge budget shortfall due to the fact that ridership hasn’t rebounded as much as they’d hoped, thus fare revenue has dropped off significantly and that service cuts are likely in 2023.
In June during an interview with NY1 news, NYC Transit president Richard Davey said that the MTA was considering service changes to account for lower ridership; which is a very nice way of saying service cuts are on the way.
What’s important to note here is who is saying this. Richard Davey only controls the subways and buses. If they were considering service cuts on the commuter railroads such as LIRR, that would have to come from MTA CEO Janno Lieber. In fact, the MTA is actually planning on a 41% service INCREASE on the LIRR come 2023. It appears to me that the MTA is increasing service on LIRR so that if they are forced to cut service across the board in the future, their white [collar] clientele on the LIRR will still have service levels at or better than the current service levels!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for service increases across the entire New York region. However when service increases in one area come at the expense of service cuts in another area, that’s where the okey doke comes in. The MTA’s money is fungible, meaning no dollar is unique or special and they are all fully interchangeable. The federal pandemic bailout money was not earmarked to specific agencies such as NYC Transit or LIRR; it was all given to the MTA as a whole, who then made the decision to carry on with the service increases on the LIRR despite the MTA hanging over a financial cliff. The announcement to increase service on the LIRR was made on May 31 https://www.amny.com/transit/lirr-grand-central-mta-hochul/ and talks of service cuts to subways and buses came immediately after in June.
As of the week of Aug 8-12, both the daily subway and daily LIRR ridership numbers have hovered around the 60% mark for a few weeks now, while buses ridership is even higher.
Why on earth would the MTA be planning service cuts for one and service increases for the other? The only difference I can see between the two services is the types of people who use and operate the services. While the subways and buses carry mostly ethnic minorities, the Long Island Railroad carries mostly white suburbanites to and from their white collar jobs in Manhattan. Tramell has described in the past how upper management in the MTA is mostly Caucasians who live in their own bubble ignoring the realities of the Transit world we’re living in. Everything from safety to pay to basic working conditions are better down at 2 Broadway than it is for the average Transit worker. In fact, safety, pay, and working conditions are all better for LIRR (also a majority Caucasian workforce) workers than Transit workers! The thing is, all these things cost money. It costs money to keep crew rooms clean. It costs money to have enough staff to ensure everyone gets their lunch break. It costs money to have security at 2 Broadway. They spend as little as possible for us at Transit and things are not nearly this bad at LIRR and are downright luxurious at 2 Broadway.
Fun fact: every single MTA chairman since the MTA’s inception in 1965 has been a white man. If you don’t believe me, just click on the short video below.
The people at the top are always willing to spend the taxpayer’s (OUR) money to make the lives of the white people of the NYC metropolitan area more comfortable, while always looking for every opportunity to take money away from the minorities in the area. Now everyone will be able to see it clear as day when the MTA enacts its plan to simultaneously give a massive increase in service to their white clientele while cutting service on transit used mostly by minorities. It shouldn’t surprise anyone though, as they have done this same exact thing before. In the immediate response to the Covid-19 pandemic subway service was reduced because of a lack of crews. Fair enough. However when the crews came back the MTA decided to keep the reduced service on the C and F lines. It took until the union filed a lawsuit a year after the pandemic began, in March 2021, to restore the service cuts.
In a stark contrast, it wasn’t until March 2021 the LIRR finally got around to reducing their service, and after ONE DAY the MTA backed off the cuts because of the commuter backlash.
The LIRR trains weren’t any more crowded than the F trains were at the height of the rush hour, they were just crowded with the people the MTA actually cares about.
It’s so insane because it doesn’t even make business sense. LIRR’s main ridership is suburbanites commuting to their white collar jobs in Manhattan. The pandemic has pretty much ended the way white collar work is done by giving people the freedom to work from home. I believe that if the LIRR ridership hasn’t yet peaked, it will very soon. Meanwhile the subway is still waiting for it’s tourist ridership to come back and when congestion pricing finally comes to fruition, it would likely bring a lot more ridership to the subway than the LIRR just due to the sheer population of the boroughs compared to Long Island. Yes, I know the LIRR service increase was planned many years ago as part of the East Side Access project, but the financial realities of the current budget should have immediately shut that down. Caucasians up in the ivory tower at 2 Broadway will always refuse to let real world realities get in the way of white people living in their bubbled world where nothing truly bad could ever happen as long as white people are in charge of the MTA.
I wrote the majority of this article before publication on Aug. 20, however there is new information about how the MTA has already begun to reduce service by not covering all trips on buses as a “money saving initiative.”
Buses should have been the last service touched out of all the MTA services, as it has the highest ridership! Will they be doing the same to save money on the LIRR? I wouldn’t bet any money on that, but I would love if someone from the MTA would try to justify giving a massive service increase to LIRR while simultaneously cutting service on NYC Transit subways and buses.