From the NY Times:
Last year, the Albany legislature levied a new tariff on most of the businesses in the New York City region. The “Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Mobility Tax” requires employers to set aside 34 cents for every $100 in payroll costs, and hand the money over to a battered, barely breathing patient on the state’s fiscal operating table: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The tax hasn’t worked out so well. So far, its projected revenues are coming in about $400 million below the state’s estimates – which, in part, will mean reduced subway and bus service for New Yorkers starting this summer. It has also prompted a furious backlash from suburban officials who resent bankrolling an agency that, they say, benefits the city at the expense of its surrounding counties.
And then there is William Schoolman, 69, amateur activist, self-described “prototypical entrepreneur,” and current proprietor of the Hampton Luxury Liner bus fleet. In December, he filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court claiming the tax to be unconstitutional and demanding its repeal. The reason?
“Competition,” Mr. Schoolman said in a recent telephone interview, anger rising in his voice. “This is the first time that I ever had to pay a subsidy directly to my competitor. That’s the thing that really bothers me.”
Indeed, Hampton Luxury Liner must compete with the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad, both arms of the transportation authority, for customers heading to the East End and the upscale outlet mall at Woodbury Common in Orange County. Of course, as a taxpayer, hasn’t Mr. Schoolman been subsidizing these railroads for years?
“You reach a point in time when enough is enough,” Mr. Schoolman said. “Why should someone support a government–funded corporation that operates as inefficiently as the M.T.A.?”