Staten Island Residents Oppose Mta Fare Hike, Call For Fare Discount

Diane J. Savino

November 13, 2007

The MTA held a public hearing on Staten Island Tuesday night to discuss a proposed fare hike, and NY1’s Amanda Farinacci explains in the following report, residents there say service on the island is so bad the agency should be giving them a discount.

Tuesday night's fare hike meeting may have been sparsely attended, but then again, it was held at a time when most residents are stuck in traffic – during the evening rush hour.

“There is a hearing held here at 6 p.m., and if they lived in any other borough, the vast majority of people would be able to get here,” said State Senator Diane Savino. “But most Staten Islanders are still on their way home.”

The MTA is trying to cover a $6 billion deficit over the next four years.

Under the two plans under discussion, weekly and monthly MetroCards would increase; local bus and subway rides would spike to $2.25. Express bus rides would also go up a quarter, to $5.25.

In a borough with no subways and only one rail line, express buses are what most commuters depend on.

“I think I should sacrifice to the Gods of the Verrazano Bridge and the Gowanus before I leave home, like the ancient Romans used to do, because unless you have divine intervention, you won’t get home on time, or to work on time,” said commuter Joanne Pellegrino.

Perhaps Islanders biggest objections comes to the other part of the MTA proposal – an increase in the toll across the Verrazano Bridge, raising the price for resident EZPass holders with a resident discount from $4.80 to $5.20. Drivers who pay cash will be charged a staggering $10 to cross the span.

Commuters say they are already frustrated about the traffic from an 18-month construction project.

“It's a slap in the face to all Staten Islanders,” said resident Mary Ellen Tarangelo. “It's a slap in the face that we have to listen to the fact that we have all the revenue from the Verrazano Bridge go to Long Island [Rail Road] and MetroNorth. That's absurd.”

There was no shortage of elected officials voicing their outrage at the meeting. Most cut their time short to allow residents more time to speak. But Councilman Michael McMahon read a David Letterman style top ten list – calling the MTA the Mighty Torturous Adventure for Staten Islanders.

“It's really a manifestation of our frustration that at these hearings the board just sits there and they're falling asleep,” said McMahon. “They're not listening to the people.”

The MTA board will decide in December whether to move forward with the proposed fare hike, and residents are certainly hoping the vote goes in their favor and no increases are added.