MTA financial report touts lower fare hikes

November 14, 2013 Heather Chin
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While impending fare and toll hikes will be lower than expected according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), for southwest Brooklyn residents, hikes of any amount are still not something to look forward to.

“I am glad that they cut the planned increases, but it’s still an increase that has to be swallowed by riders,” said Patty Hutton, a Bay Ridge resident and member of the grassroots advocacy group Riders Alliance, in response to the MTA’s announcement that instead of going up by 7.5 percent, fares and tolls will only go up by four percent.

The anticipated increases, outlined in the authority’s Final Proposed 2014 Budget and Four-Year Financial Plan, are due to be made effective in 2015 and 2017.

“For riders in Bay Ridge who are still underserved, any increase is a burden,” Hutton stressed.

Doris Cruz, transportation committee chairperson for Community Board 10, agreed.

“It’s better that it’s less—almost half of what they thought—but fare increases are still too frequent, [happening] every two years,” Cruz said, noting that the impact would be particularly hard-hitting “because many people in Bay Ridge have relatives in Staten Island and [vice versa].

“I think the MTA has to review their financing [further],” she added. “There has to be other ways to [cut costs].”

According to MTA Chairperson/CEO Thomas Prendergast, the reduced fare and toll hikes are already the result of ongoing cost-cutting, lower expenses, and higher tax and optional revenue.

“We try to keep costs down in order to minimize the financial burden on our customers, and as this financial plan shows, we are succeeding in that effort,” said Prendergast. “Our customers want value, which is quality and quantity of service, and that service has to be reliable and safe.”

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli also praised the MTA’s four-year financial plan as being in line with his office’s September, 2013 finding that the transportation authority’s  “financial outlook was significantly improved” compared to previous estimates.

“The MTA’s fare hike reduction is good news for commuters,” said DiNapoli, who also congratulated Prendergast on cutting costs while not compromising public safety and maintenance. “In difficult economic times, any relief. . . will help ease the financial burden on New Yorkers.”

Riders Alliance Executive Director John Raskin said he hopes that “the lower fare increases will help slow the constant drumbeat of fare hikes that contributed to New York City’s affordability crisis.”

These fare and toll hike reductions come on the heels of the MTA announcement that service will be increased on some rush hour 2, 3, 4, 5, A, E, F, and L lines, effective June 2014.

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