Railroad parking

January 24, 2013

The CDTA has announced it is considering raising parking rates (to match those at the airport and Empire Plaza) to provide additional funds for station maintenance.  Public comments were invited.  Here’s mine:

I just read in the Times Union that CDTA is seeking to raise parking rates to generate more revenue to keep the white elephant patched up. In other words, you are asking the public to pay more for the poor design, construction and oversight of this facility. Maybe you should instead start thinking about how to seal off some of its vast unrented spaces to save on heat and other costs before giving your patrons another excuse – as if Amtrak’s high prices and third world service aren’t reason enough – to forgo using public transportation and therefore the rail station and the few businesses inside.

The regular users of the station I know all wax nostalgiacally over the good old days of free parking (the only semi-valid reason for having our rail station anywhere but downtown Albany) and wish the present boondoggle had never been foisted upon them.

Although it probably is too late for anyone to stop this “gift” to our city from hemorraghing cash, maybe CDTA should think about getting out of the station management business and redirect all its efforts to its main mission of providing frequent and reliable bus service, a task that easily could employ all your energy and resources.

Thank you for considering public comments on this issue.

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Fiscal cliff retreat

January 3, 2013

Seems to me that Congress and the President performed about as expected as the fiscal cliff deadline approached. I was not surprised that Obama had to retreat from his $250,000 threshold for preserving the income tax rate cut, or that several important but deferrable decisions were kicked down the road. What disappointed me was that the 2% reduction in the payroll tax was allowed to expire, in effect subjecting everyone making less than $113,000 or so to an across-the-board (not marginal) effective tax increase of that amount. I’m not sure if this increased revenue goes into the treasury (in which case it at least will keep the deficit from increasing) or if it is sequestered to be used solely to pay social security and medicare benefits. In either case, though, it’s taking a lot of potentially stimulating spending power out of the economy, perhaps more than will be generated by the restoration of higher marginal rates on the 1.5%. Looks to me like a real defeat for Obama and for the middle class, again to the benefit of the rich, though it doesn’t seem like the mainstream media are reporting it that way.