The MTA’s Long-Term Plan: Obsolescence

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07/28/2010 11:08 AM |

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“The MTA welcomes the city’s independent efforts to promote livery van service in areas where funding is insufficient to support public transportation,” an MTA spokesman is quoting as saying in the Brooklyn Paper today, in an article about how the Taxi and Limousine Commission (perhaps inspired by earlier charter efforts) is seeking 20-seat livery vans to run along former bus routes for $2 a ride. (Presumably they won’t take unlimited MetroCards or offer free subway transfers.)

And why wouldn’t the MTA welcome the privatization of mass transit? It’d certainly make things easier for them. Their just-unveiled four-year plan includes fare hikes to prevent service cuts, but surely it’d be a load off the state’s mind if they no longer had to grapple with the responsibility of providing this public service. Privatize, privatize, and let God the market sort ‘em out.

Here’s Naomi Klein:

After heavy rain caused the shutdown of New York City’s subway lines, the New York Sun [which no longer publishes; there's your free market at work] ran an editorial under the headline “Sell the Subways.” It called for individual train lines to compete against one another, luring customers with the safest, driest service—and “charging higher fares when the competing lines, stingier on their investments, were shut down with tracks under water.” It’s not hard to imagine what this free market in subways would look like: high-speed lines ferrying commuters from the Upper West Side to Wall Street, while the trains serving the South Bronx wouldn’t just continue their long decay—they would simply drown.