It’s official: New York City as we know it is dead, unless our crime- and disorder-loving leaders in Albany can right the ship on our disastrous no-bail law and other criminal-justice “reforms” that have killed the MTA’s post-COVID recovery and have it facing a fiscal cliff.
The agency is losing some $200 million a month, per the latest budget data gathered by watchdog group Reinvent Albany — and that’s unlikely to change, as projections show ridership only recovering from its current anemic 65% to 80% of 2019 levels by the end of 2026. And that’s when the federal aid the MTA has used to cover its skyrocketing debt-service costs will run out.
Fares on buses and subways made up almost 40% of the MTA’s 2020 operating budget. That’s down to 26% now. So when the fed money dries up, the subway faces huge service cuts and fare hikes that still may not close the gap.
Crime, of course, is what’s primarily keeping those ridership numbers down. The city is facing a 25-year high in subway murders, with eight so far this year. Overall violent crime underground is up almost 40% over 2019 levels, including an appalling eight rapes.
That’s because a revolving-door justice system plays catch-and-release with offenders until they graduate to a truly heinous crime (and sometimes they still walk). Add in the straphanger-repelling omnipresence of the mentally ill, some of whom are violent.
So Gov. Kathy Hochul, who shamefully just punted on this issue, needs to get serious pronto about undoing the damage the “decarceration” did in 2019. She’ll have the backing of a redder Legislature and plenty of moderate Dems.
Plus, the state needs to come up with emergency funding for the MTA. Given that the Big Apple saved Hochul from Lee Zeldin’s challenge, it’s the least she could do.
But fighting crime and disorder is key. Fail to do that, governor, and the subway hits a death spiral no matter how much cash you toss at it. And with it will die New York City as we know it.