Power Cap

Power cap- existential handicapping

06 May 2009

Last Hope For The Belmont Train bailout

A state bailout plan is close to being approved for the MTA. My employer will have to pay an additional .3% payroll tax. For us overtaxed New Yorkers we can look forward to an Albany slew of taxes, surcharges and clips that will ensure that transit service will resume as normal. This bailout thing will cost my family a few thousand a year but thankfully I will get to ride the train to Belmont a half dozen times later this year. Talk about poor value. Hopefully Belmont service is restored ASAP as it is the only service in the whole system that is personally important to me. All of the service(Belmont Park was the only service cut so far)cuts are supposedly going to be reinstated according to the bailout press release. The total savings of cutting the one train that went to Belmont five days a week was $112K for the year. NYRA estimates that they were going to lose $5 million in handle for the year due to that one train.

In the mean time the thought of boarding a school bus from Queens Village to Belmont is just too much for me. I grew up riding public transit and never did I have to ride a school bus. Riding a school bus to a racetrack(sorry Funny Cide connections) is like pedaling a tricycle to a nightclub, it is the wrong vehicle for the job. I deeply resent that my taxes paid $91 million for a new Yankee train station while us horse racing fans have to ride a yellow school bus from the 1970s to complete our public transit mission. Imagine the horror of hanging on the simulcast monitors for a minute too long only to see your steed get clipped by a nose at the wire. Then with that disappointment slowing you down you sprint over to the school bus shuttle only to miss that by a nose too. Now you are tapped and stuck walking or waiting an hour for the next shuttle to Queens Village for their hourly service to New York. For the derby I considered taking the train to Belmont but drove instead to mitigate a worst case scenario. If they can fix this transit injustice all will be good in the land of the powercap transit special.


Steve Zorn said...

I wouldn't count on seeing the train back in service (except on Belmont Stakes day). Once a bureaucracy takes action, inertia tends to keep it going in the same direction.

That said, I'm curious as to why, if the train really produced $5 million in handle, equal to about $1 million in net revenue (shared among the state, NYRA and the horsemen), NYRA didn't just put up a subsidy to keep it running.

Never mind, it's obvious. Most of that $5 million was on Belmont Stakes day, and the train WILL be running then. The 96 passengers a day for the rest of the meet wouldn't generate anything like the amount that would be needed to keep the train running. Even at the seemingly high $260 a day that NYRA says they bet, the other 49 days of the meet would account for only about $1.2 million in handle from train riders, which translates into no more than $80,000 for NYRA. So the decision not to subsidize the train actually makes economic sense.

G. C. said...

I agree on the daily numbers and wondered where they got $5 million from. Hope you are wrong about the bureaucratic inertia but I suspect you are on-point about that as well.