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November 21, 2007


Eliot Spitzer reconsiders that whole "steamroller" thing

Eliot Spitzer reconsiders

It's been a rocky time for our governor, who swept into his first year of office promoting himself as a "fucking steamroller", guns blazing, ready to take on a mess of a state legislature and make some big changes.

Last week, a poll set his favorability rating at a crappy 41%, with only 25% of voters saying they would re-elect him. That's less than a year after winning almost 70% of the vote in an election in which many New Yorkers were relieved to finally have a Democrat running the state again. The two biggest stories about his governorship so far have been his proposal to offer driver's licenses to undocumented residents that nobody liked, and the "Troopergate" debacle.

It's been a total public relations disaster.

So he announced yesterday that single-swipe subway fares would hold steady at $2. This is being regarded by some media, including the Post of course, who calls Spitzer a tooth fairy, as pandering to grumpy voters in the face of fiscal experts who predict a major downturn in the region's economy in the near future, which will make fare increases necessary eventually.

Who knows? Maybe Spitzer is trying to change his public image and soften the pit-bull approach he's taken since the start of his term. But if he really is trying to get people to like him again, this approach isn't going to mean much to New Yorkers.

The Times interviewed several subway riders to ask them what they think about the single-ride price staying at $2. Considering only 7% of subway and bus riders actually pay $2 per ride according to the Straphangers Campaign, their responses aren't surprising:

"If they’re not hiking the $2 rates, there’s some way it will come out of our pocket," said Ellene Wundrok, a real estate broker from Flushing, Queens. "The tourists might benefit. They’re the ones that buy the $2 fares, not people who live in the city."

Joseph Rivera, 20, a graphic design student from Brooklyn, said that riders might react angrily once the authority announces what the increases in other types of fares will be. "This has the potential to backlash on him."

And this is hilarious: the Daily News jubilantly takes full credit for the non-increased $2 fare through its Halt the Hike campaign, and quotes chirpy reader Elsa Butler who gushes "The Daily News coverage has been fantastic!" I sure hope all those happy tourists getting a price break start picking up the Daily News down at the Publix!

I think actual New Yorkers understand that all the capital improvements the MTA plans to make over the next few years will require a big cash influx. A NYT editorial states that the MTA wants to bring in $580 million of new money in the next 2 years, so a fare increase for unlimited Metrocards may be unavoidable in that period. The MTA decides on its entire new fare plan on December 19.

But until then, we should use the Pizza Connection economic law to demand that midtown pizzerias stop charging $2.25 for a slice.

categories: Economics, NYC, Politics
posted by amy at 11:19 AM | #

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People Upstate aren't happy about the $2 fare going unchanged when Spitzer is going to increase tolls on the Thruway again. Spitzer got to 70% by convicing a lot of of Upstaters that a Democrat would look out for their interests (the way they perceive Hillary and Schumer doing). But fixing NYC subway fares while increasing Upstate highway tolls will lose him a lot of support.

Posted by: T-Rock at November 24, 2007 1:30 PM

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