University Heights, East Harlem, Yorkville, and Roosevelt Island. Today I come before the Board to oppose the proposed MTA fare increase.
As you may be aware, along with a number of my Senate colleagues, a letter has been submitted to the Honorable H. Dale Hemmerdinger asking for a deferral of the proposed MTA fare increase. The letter states that we feel this proposal is ill timed. With a long term traffic congestion mitigation plan for New York City expected to be implemented, this is a landmark opportunity to take every step possible to encourage the use of public transit. A fare hike at this time does not support this goal.
I understand that increased use of public transit does need to be met with greater investment, including subway line extensions and facilities improvements. However, I feel that these improvements must be attained without further imposing unnecessary fare hikes upon hardworking New York families who rely on public transit as their sole means of transportation. Only about 20 percent of households in my district own a vehicle which leaves 80 percent of households that depend entirely on public transit. The annual household income for families in my district who do not own a vehicle is about $34,000. It is clear that any increase in transit fares would have a negative impact on the quality of life for my constituents.
I feel confident that once the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission has deliberated in late March there will be no need for this fare increase. On March 31st the State Legislature and New York City Council have to decide on the recommendations of the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission recently created by the State Legislature. The Commission will be considering congestion pricing proposal, which would include new transit funding. On that same day, the MTA is required to submit its five-year, multi-billion dollar capital rebuilding plan, giving the public its detailed program for what repairs will be slated between 2008 and 2013. With increasing ridership numbers, potential revenue from congestion pricing and a major contribution expected from the federal government the MTA should not need to look to riders for more money.
In closing, I look forward to working with the board to ensure that transit improvements are made possible without placing the burden on hardworking New York families.