Senator Flanagan Criticizes MTA Fare Hikes
Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District), the Chairman of the Senate Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee, today blasted the leadership of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) following the approval of an increase in MTA fares and tolls.
Senator Flanagan also criticized Governor Eliot Spitzer for his support of the MTA’s toll and fare hike plan. Specifically, Senator Flanagan was dismayed that Governor Spitzer, while supporting for Long Island commuters, made a plea for the MTA to preserve subway and bus fares in New York City.
In light of the MTA's projected surplus, which grew by $220 million due to the recent discovery of unanticipated revenues, Senator Flanagan was disappointed that Governor Spitzer refused to offer any alternatives that would have protected the suburban commuter.
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, has declared that the MTA does not require a fare hike to balance its 2008 budget, and that such an increase would be "premature". In fact, the MTA is now forecasting an unprecedented year-end cash balance of nearly $1 billion, as well as a substantial projected surplus for 2008.
In his analysis, Comptroller DiNapoli also indicated that the MTA achieved less than half of the "modest" administrative savings target that was set for 2006. This reinforces the widely held belief that fiscally prudent alternatives to a fare increase are indeed available, and that they can and should be pursued by the MTA prior to any additional burden being placed on commuters.
"The MTA leadership and Governor Spitzer have chosen to protect their record surplus by forcing our commuters to shoulder an increased burden just to get to work. These increases are unfair to suburban commuters and unnecessary," stated Senator Flanagan. "If this is the best the MTA Board can achieve, then I believe it may be time to reexamine their qualifications."
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