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We are the 99 percent

Successful Fare Strike This Morning - Tens of Thousands Ride NYC Subways for Free

Posted 10 years ago on March 28, 2012, 12:46 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

occupy the mta

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 — 10:30 AM
For Immediate Release: Forward far and wide.
Rank and File Initiative
Twitter: #farestrike

This morning before rush hour, teams of activists, many from Occupy Wall Street, in conjunction with rank and file workers from the Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the Amalgamated Transit Union, opened up more than 20 stations across the city for free entry. As of 10:30 AM, the majority remain open. No property was damaged. Teams have chained open service gates and taped up turnstiles in a coordinated response to escalating service cuts, fare hikes, racist policing, assaults on transit workers’ working conditions and livelihoods — and the profiteering of the super-rich by way of a system they’ve rigged in their favor.

For the last several years, riders of public transit have been under attack. The cost of our Metrocards has been increasing, while train and bus service has been steadily reduced. Budget cuts have precipitated station closings and staff/safety reductions. Police routinely single out young black and Latino men for searches at the turnstile. Layoffs and attrition means cutting staff levels to the bare minimum, reducing services for seniors and disabled riders. At the same time, MTA workers have been laid off and have had their benefits drastically reduced. Contract negotiations are completely stalled.

Working people of all occupations, colors and backgrounds are expected to sacrifice to cover the budget cut by paying more for less service. But here’s the real cause of the problem: the rich are massively profiting from our transit system. Despite the fact that buses and subways are supposed to be a public service, the government and the MTA have turned the system backwards—into a virtual ATM for the super-rich. Instead of using our tax money to properly fund transit, Albany and City Hall have intentionally starved transit of public funds for over twenty years; the MTA must resort to bonds (loans from Wall Street) to pay for projects and costs. The MTA is legally required to funnel tax dollars and fares away from transportation costs and towards interest on these bonds, called "debt service." This means Wall Street bondholders receive a huge share of what we put into the system through the Metrocards we buy and the taxes we pay: more than $2 billion a year goes to debt service, and this number is expected to rise every year. If trends continue, by 2018 more than one out of every five dollars of MTA revenue will head to a banker’s pockets.

This much is clear: the MTA’s priorities are all out of whack. This fare strike is a means for workers and riders to fight for shared interests together — but this is just a first step. All of us — the 99% — have an interest in full-service public transportation system that treats its ridership and employees with dignity.

The MTA is a shared, public service — fund it with tax revenues.
Eliminate free money for bondholders at the expense of taxpayers.
End the assault on worker's livelihoods.



Read the Rules
[-] 7 points by windowsrefund (13) 10 years ago

Economic issues are not enough. We need to take back our dignity and push back when it comes to the obvious Martial Law indoctrination on the part of our Armed Forces and NYPD. How dare these thugs tell me they need to search my bag! How dare they violate my 4th Amendment! 2 weeks ago, I walked up to one of these thugs and asked bluntly "so, we're getting ready for a little Martial Law, eh?" The response was shocking... "I just do what they tell me". This response is at the very core of what is wrong with our country today. NYPD, the military, FEMA, and DHS are are working in tandem to create a police state where they can control our every action. There is no respect for our Constitution. What's worse, is that we allow it. Hell, some of us even want it when we allow ourselves to be conned into the double-think illusion provided by the "see something, say something" fear-mongering campaign funded by DHS.

I do not believe everyone around me is a terrorist.

I am an American with my 4th amendment intact

I do not blindly "support our troops"

I will not permit the NYPD to use me as a tool in order to teach my fellow Americans how to submit and lick boots.

[-] 4 points by proudofOKC (361) 10 years ago

You've come to the right place. Welcome. I appreciate your efforts and hope that we can all find nonviolent ways to retake our country and better change our lives.

[-] 1 points by OccNoVi (415) 10 years ago

When was the last time that you saw someone in uniform search a "random" suitcase or backpack or bag?

NYC 2012 ain't the London of "1984" and going all paranoid about licking boots isn't helpful. The reality of our problems has much more to do with Wall Street and the mortgage industry stealing $7.3-trillion dollars. And getting away with it. (As corrupt as Putin's Russia.)

Stealing a $2.25 fare from MTA is not justified by Goldman, Sachs stealing a trillion dollars. MTA is the public -- our representative chartered to provide subway and bus services.

Want a target, then aim at Port Authority. They are stealing $1-billion a year from commuters to build their new private-profit empire at WTC. One can assume that the usual bribes cleared the way for this astonishing Grand Theft Tunnel.



[-] 6 points by gfjmcginnis (6) 10 years ago

You think New York is bad. It is pure heaven compared to the Public Transit system in San Diego. It took me two hours to get to my doctors appointment Monday by bus. It's about a 12-15 minute drive by car. They did away with transfers so you must buy either a monthly pass or daily pass to avoid having to pay fares of $2.25-$5.00 for each bus you ride on. Monthly passes range from $72-$100 and only include the buses and trolley service. If you want to take the Coaster train the rate ranges on how far you go from $4-$5.50 each way. Other options for the coaster are a regional day pass that will cover the buses and coaster for $12.00 or a monthly pass for $120-$165 depending on how many zones you want it to cover. New York's transit system may be worse than it was but it is head and shoulders above San Diego's. Public transit needs to be fixed everywhere, especially here on the west coast.

[-] 3 points by proudofOKC (361) 10 years ago

Oh man, I'm sorry to hear that. Some of my family lives outside LA, and it's pretty horrible when they have to go into the city proper. I come from a city with little to no public transportation (or sidewalks for that matter), so if you don't drive you're screwed. Also in the next 5-10 years we're really going to start seeing issues with traffic, but by then it's too late!

I can't help but want to point to Japan and South Korea on this. Even with cities as crazy populated as Tokyo and Seoul, they've got trains running on time. Granted, they have to stack arrival waves (some office workers arrive at 7, 8, 9, so the whole city isn't on the trains at once) and even still it's crowded, but you can go almost anywhere in those countries via public transportation, and I did!


[-] 4 points by RayLansing (99) 10 years ago

This is beautiful. I'm proud of all the occupiers participating in this event.

[-] 4 points by aaronparr (597) 10 years ago

This isn't just MTA. Many similar issues are found in all transit districts around the country. And the issues have been compounded by the economic crash brought on by the financial "industry". The theft of public resources by private interests is criminal and these criminals should be brought to justice. Its not just the theft of resources either but also the loss of services that they should be made to redress (after publically admitting guilt in a court of law).

Every time that the bus fails to come and someone is thus late for work should be added on to a class action suit as well. What about every time someone has lost their job because of that situation? Add that to the damages.

What about the connection between crime rate and inadequate (and now abusive) public education? That should be paid for as well.

I'm not advocating that we all pick up our pitchforks and torches and storm goldman sach's for revenge, BUT the decades of assault on the public sphere needs to be accounted for. It isn't about just one public transit district. This problem is pervasive and affects every aspect of our lives. The problems however are very clear to mein public transit as it is one of the most abused forms of public service that I depend on every day.

Why do such things happen: you have an economic system in which businesses must appear to be constantly growing. The only way to maintain this "growth" is to exploit existing resources - which includes stealing from the public (as this story illustrates), ripping off natural resources from those that can't protect them, using undeveloped resources (which fossil fuels were before the 20th century), or entering a market that no business has yet tapped. All of these are exploitive (meaning that they do not involve creation of anything new) and yet happen to major sources a business' growth. Other efforts can lead to growth as well, but often these require more work for only marginal gain. Thats the problem as I see it. Its not capitalism perse, but the unrealistic expectations and demands for constant growth. Since corporations can't guarantee real growth of their enterprise, exploitation of "low hanging fruit" is the name of the game. We are just the latest targets, the latest resource to be exploited.

So anyway... take another look at "austerity" and what is behind it. Why does it always follow the one-two punch of (one) public disinvestment propaganda and (two) predatory lending practices? And why do some groups benefit so much from the whole process while it destroys local economies? Why are these practices not considered high crimes?

[-] 2 points by proudofOKC (361) 10 years ago

They are not "considered" high crimes because corruption is at all levels, including that of the justice system, the government, and the media. There are people in this country who are relatively smart and kindhearted, and would probably agree with you, but they are either convinced by the mass media or powerless to stop the corruption at the higher levels. I also agree with you that it's not capitalism, but capitalism gone rampant, unchecked, and unmerciful that is the problem.

[-] 3 points by aaronparr (597) 10 years ago

I should have been clearer. The problem is the fixation on growth as an end in and of itself. I think cancer is a good metaphor in this case since cancer is simply unrestrained growth. Too big to fail financial institutions are malignant tumors in our economy.

[-] 2 points by proudofOKC (361) 10 years ago

Ah yes, I agree. And it could have been that you were clear, and I was just misreading. Either way, thanks for your thoughts.

[-] 1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 10 years ago

Malignant cancer is the perfect metaphor. As it grows larger, it routes nutrients that should be going to other parts of the body to itself. As the body wastes away, the cancer continues to grow, unable to see that eventually it too will die with the body. A friend recently died of cancer in this same way and I saw it's effects firsthand. When I think of that cancer, Goldman Sachs and other corrupt businesses that were near death come to mind, and I wonder what kind of intelligence would decide to bring them back to life!

[-] 4 points by francismjenkins (3713) 10 years ago

lmao .... definitely creative :)

However, while it is true that most bondholders in MTA are large financial companies, many bond holders are also pensions and I imagine some small investors. It has been the mechanism to fund MTA projects (particularly large scale projects, where revenue is an inadequate funding source).

Nevertheless, we're seeing constant assaults on our public infrastructure, and this reduces to socializing the up front costs, and privatizing the profits, which is just obscene.

So this is definitely a problem that people should be aware of and discuss in a productive way ... that accounts for all the complexities inherent in this issue. Unfortunately, we lack the free press that we once had (early in our nations history), so this is how we have to roll.

In short, great job (impressive)!

[-] 1 points by Mooks (1985) 10 years ago

Very true. Municipal bonds, which I assume these are, are becoming a pretty common investment among middle class investors because income from municipal bonds is tax free.

[-] 3 points by MarkK (4) 10 years ago

As a fence-sitter for the past since 6 months on this issue, I've recently begun to lean toward the Occupy side, insofar as getting off my ass and doing something. And it has nothing to do with the recent events in NY; I think you guys are screwing up (temporarily) horribly. As an old US Marine, I know bad tactics will kill strategy. Stay true to the cause, protestors, and maintain your discipline. I go Sat. Mar. 31 to learn how to purge illegal mortgage documents, looking for false. Looks to be many. I want to shut down the fucking system that trades peoples mortgages like poker chips behind a shell game.


[-] 2 points by wgm2111 (2) from New York, NY 10 years ago

Numbers for MTA (http://www.mta.info/nyct/facts/ridership/):

5.0 mil [rides/weekday] 3.0 mil [rides/Saturday] 2.3 mil [rides/Sunday] 1.6 bil [rides/year]

Assuming 50 thousand riders were involved today, then MTA lost: $100 thousand dollars, 1% of today's revenue, and .003 % of this years revenue.

Thinking about how to put this in terms of our own finances, the yearly revenue for the middle group of 99%ers is about $50 thousand (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_are_the_99%25). So, to the MTA, this action felt like a loss of $1.50.

The message to MTA is "you have been naughty, no candy bar today."

Hopefully this motivates MTA to reorganize priorities and not punish the travelers or workers.
And thanks to MTA workers, who by the way do an awesome job!!! You guys make this city possible.

[-] 1 points by OccNoVi (415) 10 years ago
  1. Albany dropped the subsidy to MTA.

  2. That resulted from the fall-off in tax revenues related to the Great Bush Recession of 2007-2009.

  3. Further reducing MTA revenues as a matter of "punishing" MTA for bad conduct involves both a Fallacy of Composition and ignorance as to what has happened recently as NYC government has struggled to keep essential services going.

MTA is not a bank or any variety of vampire squid.

[-] 2 points by Kite (79) 10 years ago

So OWS condones theft?

[-] 1 points by zoccupy (1) 10 years ago

The MTA is doing the stealing. The people are trying to take back what started out theirs in the face of corruption.

[-] 1 points by Kite (79) 10 years ago

Theft is theft. Fare jumping is petty theft. It is not protest.

It is also rather stupid to commit this crime when you have the means to pay your way.

When you can rationalize that the entity you are stealing from is in the wrong to justify your own criminal act, you are blaming the victim. Doesn't make you all that different from the twisted thinking of a vigilante down in Florida.


[-] 2 points by geminijlw (176) from Mechanicsburg, PA 10 years ago

Bravo, every day you are an inspiration to me. I am a very proud occupier. The best is yet to come.

[-] 2 points by ShubeLMorgan2 (1088) from New York, NY 10 years ago


[-] 1 points by Drewcll (2) 10 years ago


[-] 1 points by Mark01 (82) 10 years ago

we need more economic attacks like this. its the only thing that the 1% and the government will care enough about to take us seriously

[-] 1 points by Quark3 (54) 10 years ago

May 1st will be a Great New Holiday with a profound powerful meaning!

World Solidarity!

[-] 1 points by JamesS89118 (646) from Las Vegas, NV 10 years ago

Thank you! Well written and very well done.

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (8708) 10 years ago

Thank you for this show of solidarity. We must see much more of it, growing in scale, until these people realize that we will accept nothing less than our democracy back! We will not tollerate American Fascism!

[-] 1 points by MarkK (4) 10 years ago

Fine. But I'm seeing this trend of Occupy in NY to latch onto any and all causes and hope to gain credit for them. No need to do that. Occupy has taken on a life of its own, and needs no "latching" to continue. My country (US) has already gone over the brink, and we're poised to take the whole world on the avalanche ride down. So I see the Occupy Movement as the conscience that keeps humanity from going down the tubes. But keep in mind, this shit's been going on for 1000's of years, so it will take a few, or 10 or 100 to steer it back. Don't be disheartened. Occupy is a good thing. The recent posts I've seen with Occupy protestors facing-off with NYPD left me a bit disappointed. But maybe it's a strategy that will work in NY. I just saw you as a lot of checkers-players attacking pawns. But don't be disenheartened by that. Occupy is a good, true movement. It's only in its infancy. It will take decades, as all good ideas do. By the way, I'm a former US Marine, 4 years Honorable. I protected this thing under Reagen, and don't regret a minute. However, my heroes are Abraham Lincoln, Martin L King, George Washington, and Franklin Roosevelt. My opinion? Revolution is good, but it's all in how it's carried out.

[-] 2 points by zoccupy (1) 10 years ago

"The recent posts I've seen with Occupy protestors facing-off with NYPD left me a bit disappointed. But maybe it's a strategy that will work in NY. I just saw you as a lot of checkers-players attacking pawns."

It was the NYPD who advanced on the people, not the people seeking out the police. If what you're suggesting is that every time the police advance on you, you retreat, then there isn't much left at all you can do that will have any change on society or yourself.

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 10 years ago

It's just another case of the banks creating the crisis...screwing us that is...and we the public and the employees at the MTA...having to pay the price. Yoohoo OWS...TWU...and ATU!


[-] 0 points by boxman (7) from Prospect, KY 10 years ago

This type of thinking contributes to my frustration with Occupy's direction recently. There is hardly any attempt to understand the underlying issues and address what the core problems are here.

All of the 3 bolded points at the end of the article convey an ignorance that is less than helpful.

  1. The MTA is funded with tax revenues. Where do you get the idea that it isn't? There are multiple tax streams including federal grants (tax money), state grants (tax money), real estate taxes, etc. that fund the system. The revenue from fares doesn't even come close to covering operating expenses, let alone support capital improvements. It is still a tremendous bargain to ride the MTA compared to owning a car. Hundreds of millions of dollars in tax money have gone in to making that the case.

  2. Bondholders don't get free money. They loaned their money to the MTA to allow for them to pursue capital improvements and expansions in service (i.e. more routes and more jobs), in exchange for a fixed rate of return on the money. The MTA could not have funded those improvements and created more jobs without the bondholders. When you go to the bank you don't buy a CD and then say never mind just keep the interest because I don't want to take your "free money"? What kind of logic is that? The fact is the MTA is able to provide the services it does and the jobs it has in large part due to those willing to lend the money for the bonds. And as others have pointed out, those bonds are held by millions of people in their retirement accounts who rely on the relatively low risk returns on these investments to improve their financial standing in retirement.

  3. The perceived assault on workers livelihoods isn't a conspiracy by rich people. It's the fact that the system has gotten so large and has expanded agressively with economic assumptions that were unrealistic. The funding is contorted through a partisan political process that obviously (in your view) has failed badly.

What occupy proposes and does only makes the situation worse and your failure to see that is astonishing. If you want to change the condition of the MTA get involved in the law making process that determines the funding and capital expansion policies. The budgets and capital plans of the MTA are public. Get a hold of them and get your voices heard on what you think needs to have money spent on it and what doesn't. Root out the crony budget items that are being stuffed in the budget to benefit contractors by doing work that is unnecessary, and divert it to useful items. Embarass the crony companies with a public outing of their activities and protesting in front of their companies. Finding just one mulitmillion dollar crony contract and re-diverting it to productive causes will do more to change things than the ridiculous actions of a fare strike.


[-] 0 points by Thillo (-1) 10 years ago

"...by 2018 more than one out of every five dollars of MTA revenue will head to a banker’s pockets."

Well guess what, bankers use the subways as well and I'm sure a lot of people who work on wall street also use the subways, so I'm sure thay wouldn't mind a free ride every once in a while.

Keep up the good work OWS, the 1% thanks you.






[-] -1 points by Copper12 (9) 10 years ago

By you ridding it for free you actually cause more problems. The toll is for the upkeep of the train system. That's why they charge you, you stupid socialists.


[-] -1 points by littlebiggygirl (26) from Hesperia, CA 10 years ago

fantastici!! there is simply no better way to protest than to limit the amount of money you give the government. this tax season we can all play a decisive role in the occupy movement. Let's Occupy the IRS ! www.taxkilla.com

[-] 2 points by WakeUpWorldTV (58) 10 years ago

Movement "I DON'T PAY" is spreading across Europe: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqeTGTU6FFg

[-] 0 points by Odin (583) 10 years ago

The sheep are transformimng themselves into tigers...and they are pissed.


[-] 1 points by aaronparr (597) 10 years ago

This makes no sense. How does not not giving money to gov't improve public services?

[-] 1 points by timirninja (263) 10 years ago

no federal taxation!