Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It's a Movement!

It looks like I missed a lot of excitement last week! Luckily all kinds of people have been emailing me all these great tips. For instance at the MTA hearing last week, some people were handing out these great stickers. Fun.

AND, these fantastic cards that look like MetroCards that also subtly suggest selling 370 Jay Street. Double Fun!
(I didnt get to go to the hearing, but I had to get my hands on some of this great collateral - and I did).

AND, there was a press conference at the MTA hearing about 370 Jay Street. The Brooklyn Eagle covered it and I think the headline writer sums it up pretty well: Brooklyn Leaders Tell MTA: Sell Your Empty 370 Jay St. Bldg

All the superstars were there too. Marty, Councilmembers, Assemblymembers, State Senators. Triple Fun!!

AND, apparantly at the hearing some of the superstars told the MTA board directly to sell 370! " Markowitz asked the agency to consider a commuter tax, a carbon-emissions surcharge and selling the vacant MTA building at 370 Jay St." QUADRUPLE FUN!!! First time ever for quadruple fun. (By the way, I found that article all on my own. Like a journalist would.)

BUT, it can't be all fun and games here at MTA - Please Fix Jay. My soul crushing MTA thought of the day:
- If the building has been empty for five years and will be vacant for seven years to come (Thats crazy by the way) . . .
- And the building is completely gross and dirty and looks like a baby's diaper . . .
- And the MTA is $1.2 billion in debt . . .
- And they can sell this thing for $200 million or whatever these people say . . .
- And the politicos want the MTA to sell it . . .


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

More media exposure! MTA fights back with more pigeon guano!

MTA - Please Fix Jay just got some more exposure thanks to Brownstoner! They had a blog entry reporting on the absurdity of the MTA's holding onto a valuable, vacant building while having massive budget deficits. You can read the entry and the frustrated comments here. Thankfully, due to the Manhattan Institute report and Brownstoner the word is out and thats great. Maybe the MTA will actually do something about this ridiculous situation.

The above picture is a reminder of how little the MTA cares about its riders. Is this bus stop some kind of cruel joke?! The sign is completely make-shift and pathetic. The other side has different bus routes listed, so who knows what buses actually stop there. (And check out how the sign indicates some kind of wheelchair accessibility. There is no way you could board a bus from this stop with a wheelchair). People have to wait under a miserable, rusty sidewalk shed and stand on top of a subway grate. When the bus comes it of course cannot access the curb because cars park illegally all day long. (The MTA clearly does not care about enforcing their bus zones, because as we have seen, many times its their worker's personal vehicles parked in the bus stop). So the bus rider has to walk in between cars, over the bike lane and into traffic to board the bus. Meanwhile, all traffic comes to a standstill because the bus is now parked in the moving lane. This happens about every five minutes.

And of course, our friend the pigeon has not been disturbed in years. Here he is above, using our subway station as his bathroom. That bird poop? - Never cleaned! And that peeling paint? Untouched! Oh and are you wondering about the huge planters? Still filled with nothing but dirt and trash.

Don't blame that stuff on the budget deficit. That's just good ol' fashioned, in-your-face MTA negligence!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Behold! - "The Crown Jewel of Underused Property"

Caption: 370 really does have it all - sidewalk shed, pealing paint, planters full of trash, burnt out light bulbs

Finally! Someone gets what I am saying! Check out this Op-Ed. A Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute came to the same conclusion that I did - the MTA must sell unused buildings before they raise fares.

Also, the Op-Ed recognizes the disgraceful and disrespectful condition of the building. "The crown jewel of underused property - standing in shocking deterioration for all to see - is the 13-story Board of Transportation Building at 370 Jay St., on top of Brooklyn's Jay St.-Borough Hall subway station."

Oh, and apparently we have a new name for 370 Jay Street - 'legacy real estate'. "One former official calls this a 'classic case of legacy real estate. The agency owns it and has no incentive to sell it.'" Here's an incentive - YOU'RE BROKE!!! C'mon, the MTA is flouting this one right in front of our face. Of course the author, Ms. Vitullo-Martin, says this a little more officially - "Taxpayers are entitled to an accounting before they are asked to bear yet another set of fare and tax increases."

Yeah, lets get a little accounting . . . and a building that isn't a slap in the face.

This is easy. The MTA needs money, we need clean subway stations and a landlord that won't run important buildings into the ground.

[PS - Lets get a shout-out for this blog the next time someone writes about the MTA selling its vacant buildings.]

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Assessing Assets!

The good news? Some politicos get it. And NY1 is getting the story right. Councilmembers Gioia and Yassky want to make sure that the MTA is operating efficiently before they start jacking up fares or cutting services. Text and video report here.

Bad news? Same story from the MTA. Doesn't that quote just make you feel okay about things? Oh, well then, if you are continually assessing your assets then there must be NO opportunities out there. At all. Anywhere. But wait, hold on, what's that massive vacant building on top of that joke of a subway station, right in the middle of Downtown Brooklyn? You cant miss it.

You might want to start assessing the assessors that are continually assessing your assets. Cause I got an idea that will cost you nothing but will generate enough revenue to clean that embarrassment of a subway station and many others. Here it goes:
Step 1: Sell 370 Jay Street
Step 2: Use the revenue to clean subway stations.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Comptroller says - "Cut the Fat"!!!

Look at this! The State Comptroller also thinks that the MTA is not very cost effective. The first sentence of the NY Post story pretty much sums it up:
"The MTA is weighed down with managers, marketing types and p.r. staffers - fat the agency should trim before it slashes service, hikes fares or creates new bridge tolls, state auditors told The Post."
You can read the rest of the story here. Of course I would add that the MTA has valuable assets that it lets sit around unused for years and years. The Post doesn't talk about those things, but it should. Maybe that is their next exclusive (HINT HINT - Send me an email!).

Of course, everyone knows that the MTA has lots of fat to cut. In fact between this blog and The Post I bet we could cover half of the budget gap. How is that?! How are we letting the MTA raise fares to $3 before we demand that they run a lean operation? How are we letting them cut service when there are many other ways to reduce the budget? Its bad enough that we give these people money and we accept that they cannot maintain their decrepit stations. Lets get a little accounting going! Sell that vacant, decrepit building that is an insult to riders and passers-by, let someone else take care of it and use the revenue for station maintenance.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

MTA Fiscal Crisis? Cut the Fat!!!

If you haven't heard, the MTA is in a huge fiscal crisis. They announced on Monday that it is even worse than previously projected. $300 million worse. The hole for 2009 is $1.2 billion. But good news, the MTA is looking at every possible way to cut the budget and raise revenues. Look at the graphic from the New York Post, they are even considering selling 370 Jay Street. That way someone else can take care of that building instead of running into the ground at the rider's expense.

Okay, they aren't doing that. And I admit it, maybe I doctored that image a bit. But they SHOULD be looking at every way to cut the budget.

Now, I know, people tell me that the sale of 370 Jay Street is small potatoes. I don't get that attitude. Its tens of millions of dollars that the MTA gets at no cost because the space is vacant. Yes, thats not all of the deficit, but that doesn't mean that you don't look at these things.

And on top of that, after they sell it we all benefit from a suitable station that doesn't insult riders. Cut the budget AND BETTER SERVICE! Also it seems to me that before you start raising fares and asking for taxpayer dollars, people would want assurances that you have cut all the fat. I bet the Governor is going through his budget with a fine tooth comb before he cuts services. He doesn't fire 100 teachers because that $70 million he could add to revenues is small potatoes.

If your kid asked for more allowance wouldn't you want to make sure that they were spending their money wisely?:
"I need more allowance, Dad. I don't have enough to pay for my lunches"
"Oh really, what have you been spending it on?"
"Lets see - clothes for school, books and every week I make a paper airplane out of a twenty dollar bill and fly it out the window".
"Well, why don't you try using that $20 bill to pay for your lunches?"
"But I need more money!"

You see what I'm getting at here?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Our Flag Was Still There!

This looks great!
On November 4th, 2008 the United States of America elected it's new President, Barrack Obama. Many Americans were very excited by this news and took to dancing in the streets and waving flags. The MTA was also pretty excited as can be seen by their impressive display of American patriotism and New York State pride. But wait, hold on, look at that flag! Is that a holdover from when LBJ was president and Rockefeller was the Governor? Or maybe they are reenacting the moment in history recounted in the Star Spangled banner. This raggedy American flag sure looks like its been through a war. And I dont think that New York flag (if thats what it is) has been unfurled in years. Its permanently wrapped around that pole.

If you look closer you can see that the MTA does not miss a detail when going for that 1970s-Belfast look. The sidewalk shed is an obvious place to start, and tattered flags add a nice effect, but the MTA rounds out the look with some very nice boards in the windows. Classic.

I know what you are thinking: "okay, MTApleaseFixJay, we know the MTA is neglectful and can't maintain anything, but they are in a budget crisis, what can they do?"

Well, I bet you didn't know this. They could sell that building for at least $100 million. Its prime time real estate, right in the middle of Downtown Brooklyn and on top of a subway station. And as we know from an earlier post and by just looking at the thing, its been vacant for years. They could sell it and make money - thats a good idea. But what are they going to do instead? Put $150 million into the building - thats a bad idea. They say so here. Where are they getting this $150 million? Who knows? And why do the improvements cost more than the building is worth? Who knows? But doesn't it make you proud to be an American?

"Oh say, does thaaaaat star spangled banneeeeerrrrr yeeeeeet waaaaaaave"!!!!