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.
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.
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.