Long Island’s New York State Senate Majority Delegation today urged the Metropolitan Transportation Authority ("MTA") to withdraw its plan to raise fares and tolls in 2008, 2010 and every two years thereafter.
"The bottom line is the MTA has once again turned its back on its fundamental responsibility of providing safe, convenient, and user friendly service and decided instead to line their pockets with the hard earned cash of middle class commuters. At a time when we could be reducing air and noise pollution through the use of mass transit, it is wrong that the MTA puts forth an unfair and unjustifiable fare increase. It is time to de-rail this train wreck of a plan," said Senator Carl L. Marcellino (R-Syosset)
Senator Charles J. Fuschillo (R-Merrick) said, "Enough is enough. LIRR commuters do not need to see any more of their hard earned money going to finance a transit system that is supposed to work for them, rather than against them. I strongly urge the MTA to abandon this fare increase proposal."
As signed by Senators Dean Skelos, Owen Johnson, Kenneth LaValle, Caesar Trunzo, John Flanagan, Kemp Hannon, Carl Marcellino and Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., the Delegation sent a letter to the MTA Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Elliot G. Sander requesting that the MTA "withdraw the fare and toll proposal from the Board of Directors’ agenda."
Senator Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said, "With a billion dollar surplus expected this year and another surplus anticipated next year, it’s absolutely unconscionable for the MTA to raise fares. These fare increases are unnecessary and further burden Long Island commuters who have repeatedly been victimized by the MTA’s discriminatory fare policies." Senator Skelos is the Senate’s Representative on the MTA’s Capital Program Review Board.
Senator Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) said, "The MTA has not established the rationale for this hike, nor the forecasting for the hike, nor any steps which the MTA is taking to hold down costs. This lack of transparency and lack of planning will spark a revolt by people paying for an unknown service. Making this proposal more egregious is that this fare increase is on top of previous, recent hikes, including 25% in 2003 and an additional 5% in 2005. This does not include surcharges created to purchase a ticket on the train from a conductor."
According to the MTA’s July Financial Plan, the Authority forecasts a record, $960 million surplus this year, with an expected surplus of $377 million in 2008. While the MTA has acknowledged that fare and toll increases are not required to balance its budget next year, it has proposed a 6.5% fare and toll yield increase that would raise Long Island Rail Road ("LIRR") fares by up to 8% over last year. The plan also includes biannual fare increases beginning in 2010. In addition, the MTA has suggested it will reduce the discount provided to purchasers of monthly LIRR passes and Metrocards.
Since 1995, LIRR fares have risen by 42%. During that same period, the MTA’s introduction of the Metrocard has actually lowered the average subway fare by 11%.
On August 27, 2007, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued a report labeling the MTA’s fare increase plan "premature" and noted that the MTA achieved only 41% of the Authority’s own "modest" administrative savings target for 2006.
The MTA’s Board of Directors is scheduled to vote on the fare and toll increase plan at its December meeting. The Long Island Senate Majority Delegation encouraged commuters to attend the MTA’s Long Island public hearing on November 7th and Farmingdale State College or submit comments through the MTA’s website. In the coming days, the Delegation will formally request that the MTA schedule a second public hearing on Long Island to provide its 300,000 daily LIRR riders with an additional opportunity to comment on the proposed fare increase.
Members of the Long Island Senate Majority Delegation will be distributing petitions opposing the MTA’s fare increase at local train stations and posting online petitions on their websites.
Senator Marcellino speaking on the Senate floor - telling Governor Spitzer’s MTA Chairman appointee NO NEW FARE HIKES