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PCAC Testimony – September 23, 2019 – MTA Needs Dedicated Operating Revenue, Not Service Cuts

Statement by Lisa Daglian, PCAC Executive Director
MTA Needs Dedicated Operating Revenue, Not Service Cuts
At the NYCT Committee Meeting
MTA Headquarters, 2 Broadway, New York, NY 10004
September 23, 2019

Good morning. My name is Lisa Daglian and I am the Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA.

On Wednesday, you’ll vote on a 50 plus billion-dollar capital plan that will include new subway cars and buses, new signals and facilities and finally HOPE that transit riders will get the 21st century system they deserve. We’ll have more to say about the plan on Wednesday.

But juxtaposed to these critical infrastructure investments is the specter of “service guideline adjustments”—service cuts— which Chairman Foye raised at the August 16 emergency board meeting. We don’t know what the reductions will look like, but we do know that cutting service on subways and buses is exactly the wrong thing to contemplate, despite the authority’s budget woes. We spell out our concerns further in an op-ed that appeared online in Crain’s last week, which I have available here.

Earlier this year we all worked together in support of congestion pricing, with the successful campaign predicated on raising much-needed funds for Fast Forward, LIRR Forward and Metro-North Way Ahead.  Finally, a major, new dedicated funding stream was realized to support transit.

Unfortunately, no dedicated funding has been secured for operating the system—actually running the trains and buses. The annual shortfall is expected to balloon to almost $1 billion by 2022, and the MTA is now looking to cut its way out of red tape—much as it did in 2010.

Nine years later, the city is still suffering their effects. We may never see another V train or restoration of lost Staten Island buses, and the M104 bus will likely never run across 42nd Street to the U.N. The MTA’s own review of those cuts concluded: “The service reductions did result in certain customers losing access to transit service or experiencing a degradation in their service. When service cuts are driven by the need to reduce costs, customer impacts are essentially unavoidable.”

Impacts could be more widespread this time around. Congestion pricing aims to reduce vehicular travel by getting people out of cars and into transit. That means there has to be service to get people where they need to go. It’s simple: if the service isn’t there, the riders won’t come.

No, cutting service isn’t the answer. The same political will that finally brought about congestion pricing is now needed to create a dedicated funding stream to operate the system. We offer several suggestions on our website at

New York and the surrounding region cannot afford to be caught in a transit death spiral. Our economy will suffer but riders will be the biggest losers.

Read the full testimony: 09.23.2019 MTA Needs Dedicated Operating Revenue Not Service Cuts