After a train derailment in Harlem on Tuesday injured dozens of people and scrambled the entire train system through Wednesday morning, Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell is urging the state legislature to come back to Albany to consider a bill he is co-sponsoring.

“The system is plagued by signal problems, technology that predates the 50’s, delays, and aging trains. New York City heavily relies on public transportation and cannot function without it, which makes it imperative that we have a safe and reliable public transit system. We cannot stand by as New Yorkers face regular MTA system failures, putting their ability to work and personal safety at risk.”

The “Better Trains, Better Cities” bill would impose “a temporary, three-year surcharge on personal income taxes for those in the MTA region earning more than $1 million annually, as well as on New York City hotel and motel taxes” to raise $2 billion annually that would be used to pay for subway system upgrades. An emergency manager would be hired to lead the effort. Ostensibly, the money could not be “raided” by the state to pay for other things.

O’Donnell and State Sen. Michael Giannaris are asking people to sign a petition to urge Gov. Cuomo and legislators to deal with this issue.

NEWS | 41 comments | permalink
    1. Richie Richardson says:

      oh sure – those bottomless rich pockets are the source of funding for every problem…

      • Christina says:

        As they should be!

        • John says:

          The MTA has been driven into the ground by decades of make-work, featherbedding, and bureaucratic morass. MTA projects cost 5-10x more than similar projects in other developed countries. The structural failures of the MTA must be addressed before simply shaking down the wealthy in order to pour more money into the cash blender that is our public works system.
          I’m not shedding any tears for the rich, but their marginal tax rate in NYC is already well north of 50%. We need serious, long-term solutions for the failures of the MTA. “Sticking it to the rich” is just an easy way to skirt addressing the real problems and creating a sustainable system for the future. Anyone have Elon Musk on speed dial?

        • Lulu says:

          Why should they be? So where’s the incentive to work hard and get ahead? Why don’t we all pool our incomes and divy it up evenly. All our homes can be identical, every classroom can have the exact gender/race/sexual orientation as each other and uniforms should be handed our because we wouldn’t want anyone getting jealous of someones designer handbag that they dare to carry.

    2. John says:

      First things first; let’s find out why our infrastructure projects are monetary black holes; costing 5-10x as much as similar projects in other developed countries.


    3. mike says:

      Sure, raise taxes on me. I will then leave for Florida, and instead of raising extra taxes, you will lose $120K that I already pay in city and state taxes, not to mention the two jobs that my consulting business provides.

      There is nothing so permanent as a temporary tax hike. The temporary tax hike on people making over $1mm that was implemented in 2009 and was supposed to last three years is still with us.

      • JR says:

        But then you have to live in Florida…

        • Mark says:

          Anyone who considers Florida as a viable place to live probably doesn’t belong in NYC.

          • John says:

            Who would want to live a backwater like Miami!? If you like beautiful beaches and vibrant culture you’re surely not a true New Yorker!

            • OriginalMark says:

              I’m sure Miami has a vibrant culture in the minds of people who aren’t familiar with vibrant culture.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        you’re making over $1 million a year. how much extra are these taxes? 2K? 3K?

        and if it’s a MARGINAL RATE tax, it will be nothing on your first $1 million.

        i weep for you. maybe those employees of yours will have an easier time getting to work if we can put more $s into MTA capital improvements.

        • Yogi Mantle says:

          Ahhh, the generic “Oh, you can afford it” argument.

          Spoken just like a person who loves to spend other people’s money.

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            complaining about the grabbing of “other people’s money” to use against people advocating progressive taxation and less inequality is a right wing canard. after all, the entire system is based on “other people’s money.” arguably, there is no such thing:

            — the financial services industry is based on not only using “other people’s money” but on leveraging it and creating new money based on pledging “other people’s money” as collateral. the private banking system creates the vast amount of money circulating through the economy, and has so for hundreds of years. check out “fractional reserve banking.” All based on “other people’s money.”

            — and of course, ANYONE who makes millions on Wall Street is doing so through “other people’s money.” not to mention entrepreneurs who take loans from banks or give away equity in companies in exchange for investments. or any Venture Capital investment fund.

            — right wingers rarely if ever complain about welfare benefits (government benefits) that mainly accrue to the upper middle class and/or the rich. I am using “welfare benefits” here in a specific, economic way: please don’t get this mixed up with what is commonly called “welfare.” if you want to look into welfare benefits for the upper middle class, start with the mortgage interest tax deduction. and you might want to look into the “carried interest” tax loophole, and the lower tax rates on investment income (capital gains). there are all sorts of benefits delivered through the tax system to developers and real estate owners; i am not an expert at these, but please consult with Donald Trump.

            — finally, if you’re making a million dollars a year, it’s not because you produce 20x the value of someone making 50K a year. it is because you have benefited from an unequal political division of the wealth of the society, based on different forms of class biasand advantage. you can accuse me of being a Marxist, and this is indeed something marx believed in. But he was not alone. Check out how Adam Smith treats the division of social wealth between capital and labor — he largely has the same analysis. or Ricardo. or Keynes.

            so please let’s discuss taxes on the wealth / progressive taxation from the point of view of whether it benefits the entire community or not — and avoid the empty moralizing about “other people’s money.”

      • Maggie says:

        You’re making over $1M but only paying $120k in taxes… There’s the problem. The middle class gets stuck paying 33% of their salaries in taxes and the rich are paying less.

        • Stavanot Fligeshi says:

          Maggie, if you are paying 33% of your income for CITY and STATE taxes (as Mike the poster referenced), then you are really getting ripped off! The $120K he referred to is for LOCAL….and beyond that, he (others) have to pay a vastly larger amount. Someone in the 1million salary area (and many others below it too) are paying over 1/2 of their income for taxes.

          The reason that you or others are claiming the middle class is paying more is because many with large incomes have deductions. Actually, if they give away a large amount ot charity, yes, that is a deduction, but also less income.

          I am definitely “Middle class” and make much, much less than the poster, but I also take deductions for my mortgage and donations…but realize those with super high incomes are paying the majority of the taxes.

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            I just used the tax calculator to calculate taxes for people at incomes of 60,000, 100,000, and 1 million per year. i did it all with pure salary (no capital gains or other income with lower rates) and no deductions; calculation for a single person. Let’s recall that people making 1 million a year will usually have many deductions and will have a large chunk of their income in various lower tax categories. thus, they will pay mucvh lower effective rates. See Donald Trump, or Mitt Romney.

            Let’s recall that state and local taxes are deductible, which lowers the effective federal rate. i am assuming the online calculator builds this in. Also, there is a cap on FICa taxes, with the exception of the medicare surtax that was implemented with Obamacare (and which the Republicans are now trying to get rid of). So in effect, higher income people pay a much lower rate on FICA.

            the overall tax rate (all taxes) at 1 million was 47%; 100,000, 38%; 60,000, 35%.

            State and local taxes: for 1 million, it was 10.42%; 100K, 8.83%. Not a big difference. for 60K, it went down to 6.61%, which seems appropriate.

            so the bottom line is that our tax system is fairly flat, perhaps flatter than it should be. in the Eisenhower era, the top marginal federal rate was over 90%! (for earned income; for capital gains, it was much lower).

            tax calculator, try it yourself:


    4. Gary Hack says:

      How about a tax on all of us who use the subways? The rich probably don’t use the subways. Isn’t it our collective responsibility to ensure that our transportation systems are up to date?

      • anon says:

        oh get out of here with your logic and sense of personal responsibility! NYC is no place for either! haha. JK. Your comment just restored a small bit of my faith in mankind. I hope someday the city is filled with 8 million other people who think the way you do.

      • W 67th St says:

        I’m no class warrior, but there’s a flaw in your logic. Rich people who don’t take the subway still depend on a functioning subway (employees coming to their offices, nannies/teachers caring for their kids, customers coming to their businesses).

        • EricaC says:

          Moreover, a well-functioning subway serves even those who do not use it by reducing congestion on the roads and related polllution, wear and tear, etc. Having a working subway is good for everyone who lives in the city, even if they never get on board.

      • OriginalMark says:

        The rich don’t use the subway?
        You must be new to NYC.

    5. Lynn says:

      The fares have gone up and up, ostensibly to repair or maintain the system. Over my body would I pay more for the subways. I’ll take buses or Uber!

      • Stuart says:


        Taking a bus or a subway, your fare dollars (which are the same price) are all going into the same MTA pot, so there is no difference there…

      • Jay says:

        $.50 for every trip you make by taxi goes to the MTA. Not that you care about reality or anything….

    6. drew says:

      I would just tax the hell out of the rich so they become poor.,but then who will we take the taxes from?
      I think maybe anyone in politics they never seem to be poor.

    7. AC says:

      How about just taxing those who have miss-managed our aging system for the last 30 years?

      Back in the day, the Execs would blame the Unions. But the Unions have made several concessions over the last 20+ years alone. Heck, with the Metro Card, gone are the token booths, clerks, and money train.

      This Agency has been miss-managed from the Governor down to the Conductor who closes the door on the baby carriage, just to make the schedule.

      Calling it here first, Cuomo losses NYC in November 2018. MTA will be the major reason.

      • fritz says:

        who’s gonna beat Cuomo?,,we have a natural disaster as mayor but its looking pretty good that he’s unfortunately gonna be re-elected to finish the job of dropping this city back into abyss

    8. David Collins says:

      OPM – Other People’s Money!

      Tax those who likely use the subway the least.

      Tax those who are already likely paying more in taxes than any other income group.

      Don’t even think about cutting back on other costs/expenses. Just ask for more money.

      Keep raising subway fairs and have nothing to show for it other than worse service.

      Wait until things can’t get much worse before attempting to fix them. Read the article in today’s New York Times and you will this issue has been getting worse FOR DECADES, yet here we are today.

      This is nothing short of complete incompetence if not negligence by our politicians.

    9. John says:

      Increase the tolls on the tunnels and GWB to about 30 and 25 on the two Tunnels to fund the subways. Will tax mostly out of towners that way

    10. DenMark says:

      Congestion charges to CBD and Financial District. $1 MM is not super rich and discourages high income earners from living here… but something on these penthouses owned by shell corporations and effectively serving as bank accounts for foreigners would be ideal.

    11. Lrahip says:

      Hooray for Assembly Member O’Donnell for proposing a solution!!! He is not only addressing the problem but actually trying to get something done about it.

    12. RedRaleigh says:

      I thought all that extra, regulation and tax-free money the rich is allowed to make is supposed to “trickle down”. We’ve heard that for 40 years.

      Not so much.

    13. B.B. says:

      There already exist a vast and bewildering array of supposed “temporary” taxes, surcharges and fees at least that is what they were called at time of enactment.

      However in the vast cesspool of inbred relations that is Albany nothing is ever “temporary” when it comes to taxes/raising revenue. Once a thing begins the voracious appetites that make up the NYS budget demand to be fed; so the temporary tax is renewed again and again.

      Case in point the so called “millionaires” NYS tax surcharge that was enacted in 2009:



      As for that subway crash the MTA determined it was caused by worker/human error *NOT* an equipment failure.


      The MTA is a bloated and grossly inefficient agency with little direct public oversight, yet it has a vast budget, has huge debts and continues to borrow vast sums with little insight and public scrutiny as to where the money all goes.

      Here’s an idea; instead of shoveling yet more money at the MTA, how about inserting a bit more fiscal discipline including cutting back the huge amounts of overtime paid, and paying closer attention to disability and pension costs.

      As for New York City Transit/the subways; it is time to stop blaming lack of funding from Albany for all that system’s woes.

      NYC proved no better able to run and manage the NYCTA than the system of private companies who largely built the subway system and or ran the bus and trolleys. Part of this was the refusal of city government to raise the “nickel fare” for political reasons.

      Then came the fiscal events of the 1970’s and the cash strapped city turned the NYCTA over to the state (MTA), and essentially washed their hands of the thing. Nearly every year since NYC has reduced the amount of funding it sends to Albany for the MTA.

      Cuomo had to shame BdeB into increasing funding last time around by pointing out NYC is awash in so much money it doesn’t know what to do with it all. Well it does; the money goes to all and sundry pet social causes that are near and dear.

      • Mark says:

        I’m with you on this B.B.

      • John says:

        Amen. The MTA needs a vast and far reaching overhaul.

        Raiding the rich is simply pouring water into a leaky bucket; a short term non-solution to massive systemic problems.

    14. EricaC says:

      I think the subway should be fixed, and I think we need to raise taxes to do it, and I think that taxes should be progressive – which means that rich people pay a higher rate than less rich people – but I really find it offensive when politicians talk about “tax the rich to achieve X”. It makes it sound as though the purpose is to tax the rich, rather than to achieve X. Which may be true for some, but it is unnecessarily contentious, unless your goal is, in fact, to drive those with money out of the city. Which may be the goal, but I don’t agree with it.

    15. Scott says:

      This mess was really the result of garbage on the tracks, which started and sustained a fire. This turned a derailment with no deaths into a potential life-threatening event. It doesn’t take much money to keep tracks clean. The people are in place to pick up the trash. They’re just doing a piss poor job. Maybe the solution is to fire a bunch of them and replace them with workers who actually give a damn.

    16. 92nd Street says:

      I mostly walk