This Op-Ed by Nicole Malliotakis originally appeared in the Brooklyn Reporter
Over the last several months, Brooklyn’s beleaguered bus rider shave scored a pair of major victories with the restoration of service on the X27 and X28 bus lines. These routes provide vital service to Brooklyn’s commuters who need access to midtown Manhattan for basic purposes like going to work, visiting family,or seeing a doctor.
Certainly, this is a step in the right direction by the MTA and shows that the agency has begun to take our needs as commuters in Brooklyn seriously. The public has made it clear, however, that the MTA has plenty of work left in front them.
In June, I launched www.givememybusback.com,an online petition drive to tell the MTA that our riders have had enough of paying more money for less service. Less than two months later, hundreds of people have signed on to make their voices heard.
Here in Brooklyn, we’re tired of the nickel-and-diming that the MTA uses to fund its bloated, inefficient bureaucracy. The problem goes beyond bridge tolls and fare hikes, although that area is certainly a cause for concern.
In recent years, the state legislature has allowed the MTA to reach into the pockets of business owners, job-creators and the taxpayers of our communities. It recently increased taxes and fees on utilities, vehicle registration, and driver’s license fees, among other necessities.
In addition, the MTA Payroll Tax has been particularly disastrous,forcing a surcharge on business owners within the agency’s service region for every dollar they issue in payroll, another incentive for business owners to eliminate jobs or leave the state.
Yet, the MTA’s assault on taxpayers doesn’t stop there. The petroleum business tax bolsters the agency’s coffers. The bank tax,the auto rental tax, taxicab surcharges and a litany of other taxes and fees are funneled straight to the MTA. There is virtually noway to escape the financial net that has been cast.
What compounds this problem of skyrocketing taxes and fees is the fact the services are actually decreasing. In Brooklyn, even though riders are forced to dig deeper into their wallets time and time again, crucial services like the B37 bus line and weekend express bus service are still nowhere to be seen. There is no return on the investment put down by Brooklyn’s commuters, which is the foundation for the problems plaguing the MTA as a whole.
The most effective vessel for change in a situation where a business is failing its customers is the customers themselves. In this instance, the riders of Brooklyn need to continue to make their voices heard, telling the MTA that we won’t pay more for less
I am extremely thankful to the constituents who have joined my fight and signed my petition, and I encourage all the commuters in our community to visit www.givememybusback.com to send a clear message to the MTA that we have had enough!