On Tuesday, November 25, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, elected officials, Gene Russianoff of NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign, and Christopher Greif, a transit user with disabilities, denounced the latest proposed MTA fare hikes and service cutbacks that impact Brooklyn neighborhoods, and proposed alternative revenue sources to close the MTA’s budget shortfall. Joining BP Markowitz for the press conference inside the Borough Hall/Court Street station in Downtown Brooklyn were Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez; Senator Eric Adams; Assembly Members Jim Brennan, Karim Camara, Hakeem Jeffries, Joan Millman, and a representative of Assembly Member Vito Lopez; Council Member Simcha Felder and a representative of Council Member Bill de Blasio; and JoAnne Simon, Democratic district leader.
In addition to fare increases for subway, bus, express bus, and Access-A-Ride, the MTA is proposing the elimination of the Z subway line; terminating the M train in Lower Manhattan—ending service to Brooklyn; skipping the Court Street and Lawrence Street stations during late nights along the N line; and terminating G trains in Long Island City—reducing the number of options for commuters wishing to travel between Brooklyn and the far reaches of Queens without going through Manhattan.
Bus service would also be slashed, with the proposed elimination of the B23, B37, and B39; weekday service cuts on the B25, B51, and B75; weekend service cuts on the B2, B4, B7, B16, B24, B48, B57, B65, B69, B71, B75, and X27 and X28 express buses; nighttime cutbacks on the B7, B14, B31, B45, B48, B57, B64, B65, B67, and B77; and service reductions affecting the B13, B16, and B70.
“The MTA’s latest round of proposed fare hikes and service cuts is, in a word, unacceptable,” said BP Markowitz. “Yes, these are indeed tough economic times, and we all must do some belt tightening, but we can’t resort to exorbitant fare increases and subway and bus service cuts—or East River bridge tolls—which selectively punish certain boroughs and neighborhoods for what is a regional and state responsibility. Brooklyn already represents the largest proportion of mass transit users in the City, and it’s downright discriminatory—especially against our immigrant communities and those hard-working residents who sometimes have no other way to get around—to impose tolls, increase fares, derail subway service or bring buses to a screeching halt when our borough is already paying its fair share.”
“The threatened fare hike and massive service cuts ask millions of subway and bus riders to pay more for less,” said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign. “We hope that our state leaders will find ways to rescue riders from this fate.”
Alternate funding sources proposed by BP Markowitz:
•Institute a special state lottery, possibly a jackpot game drawn on Mondays, and dedicate its proceeds to transportation throughout the state.
•Increase car registration fees within New York City, and impose an equivalent surcharge on registrations in counties outside NYC but within the MTA service district (Long Island, and the counties of Dutchess, Rockland, Westchester, Orange, and Putnam). Dedicate these funds to mass transit.
•Charge higher car registration fees based on vehicle type (instead of linking price variations primarily to vehicle weight). This could help to encourage purchases of more efficient vehicles while also helping to spread the burden of providing mass transit.
•Issue a modest increase to the existing state gasoline tax for the metropolitan region, with funds dedicated directly to mass transit.
•Reinstate the Commuter Tax. This could generate more than $500 million in annual revenue for the MTA. All counties in the New York metropolitan region benefit from New York City’s economy. It is time these residents paid their fare share.
Photos by Mark Zustovich
In photo 1: BP Markowitz joins Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign (far left) and elected officials at press conference denouncing proposed MTA fare hikes and service cuts.
In photo 2: Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and BP Markowitz (to her left) speak at press conference denouncing proposed MTA fare hikes and service cuts.