Thursday, April 23, 2009

Call on State Representatives to Lower Unconscionable MTA Fare Increases - Op/Ed by Albert Baldeo...

Despite our protests, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently voted to enact a series of fare hikes and service cutbacks, presumably to keep the transit system from going broke. MTA Board members artfully called the combination of fare increases and slashing bus, subway and commuter rail cuts a disaster but said they could no longer wait for lawmakers in Albany to rescue them. The votes, painfully taken in three parts, approved fare hikes, toll increases and service cutbacks, despite spirited opposition.

On behalf of the millions of tax payers and working families, who depend on this system, we demand that a compromise be reached before the subway and bus fare hikes take effect May 31. It is troubling to see how our elected officials fail to appreciate and respond to the massive transportation threat millions of New Yorkers face every day. The public interest is paramount, and we need to work together to implement a real and viable mass transit plan that does not create yet another reason to drive residents from our state.

Unless Albany acts, this decision will affect millions of New Yorkers in the coming months, as base subway and bus fares will jump to $2.50. Seven-day passes will jump from $25 to $31, 14-day passes will increase from $47 to $59 and the cost of 30-day MetroCards will rise from $81 to $103 effective May 31, 2009, while commuter rail fares will increase on June 1. Tolls on the authority’s bridges and tunnels will also go up, with the increase taking effect in mid-July. The service cuts are far reaching. They include the elimination of 35 bus routes and two subway lines, the W and Z. Off-peak and weekend subway, bus and commuter rail service will also be cut back. Gloomy, indeed!

Given the city’s economic downturn, this is unconscionable, and places an undue burden on all of us who use public transportation. It amounts to untold suffering to two-thirds of all mass transit riders in the United States. Enough is enough!

Albert Baldeo is a Community Advocate and former State Senate candidate who helped Democrats take control of the State Senate for the first time since 1965.