Fare hike moves forward
As Albany dithered on a MTA rescue plan, the transit agency's finance committee approved drastic fare hikes yesterday that will roll out in June unless state lawmakers quickly cough up bailout money.
There isn't anyone on this board that wants to do this, said chairman Dale Hemmerdinger. It's very painful to everybody who uses the system.
Under the plan, a single fare would rise to $2.50 and a monthly pass would jump by $22 to $103. Subway and bus riders could suffer increases of at least 23 percent, with travelers on some commuter rail lines enduring hikes of up to 70 percent.
The full MTA board will vote tomorrow on the fare resolutions and dozens of service cuts to fill its $1.2 billion deficit. Board members said they could reverse the measures if Albany comes through with new funding within a week or so of the vote, an agency spokesman said.
Gov. David Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and a coalition of advocates have come out strongly in favor of the rescue package, which would implement bridge tolls, a .33 percent payroll tax and 8 percent fare hike to help the agency. Senate Democrats are holding out for their plan that would eliminate the tolls and reduce the payroll tax and fare increase.Paterson yesterday sounded a defeated tone in urging the MTA board to adopt its budget tomorrow. The Senate has not updated its own plan or reached any compromises, said Austin Shafran, a spokesman for State Senator Malcolm Smith.
Transit advocates have meetings scheduled with Silver and Smith today to keep the pressure on lawmakers as budget talks take up nearly all of Albany's schedule.
Also yesterday, the MTA presented a sobering budget update. Revenue from taxes on real estate sales have declined by 50 percent more than expected.
The MTA is really in a deep hole, and unfortunately, the hole is getting deeper, said Andrew Saul, the finance committee chairman.