Bay Ridge

Pols say Cuomo veto of free bus transfers is un-fare

November 24, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Governor Cuomo’s veto means that commuters who have to take multiple buses and trains will be only one free transfer unless they buy an unlimited card. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s veto of legislation that would have allowed more than one free transfer for commuters taking multiple Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) buses and trains will hurt hard-working New Yorkers in the pocketbook, lawmakers charged.

On Monday, Cuomo vetoed the bill, citing high costs. The legislation, approved by the state Legislature in June, called for riders in remote areas of the city to be able to get two free transfers if they took, for example, two buses and a train to get to work or school. Under current MTA rules, only one free transfer is permitted, no matter how many buses and trains a person takes within a two hour window.

“The MTA estimates it would cost approximately $40 million annually to provide a second free transfer, yet the bill does not provide any funding to account for this expense,” Cuomo wrote in his veto message.

The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn) and Assemblymember Jeff Dinowitz (D-Bronx).

Golden, a member of the MTA’s Capital Review Board, said the legislation would have given commuters a financial break.

“The increase in transportation costs which New Yorkers face challenges the personal budget of many, and this legislation would have provided some much needed relief. There are many diligent individuals who live a great distance from their work, or students from their schools, who are forced to travel via two buses and a train to reach their destination. I am disappointed in Governor Cuomo’s veto of this bill which would have prevented folks from having to pay two fares for what is in reality one trip,” Golden said in a statement.

The fight to lower transportation costs isn’t over, Golden warned.

“I will continue to look for mechanisms to reduce the burdensome cost of travel in which we face each and every day. I will work with my colleagues to advance and negotiate this effort, and will stand with the transit riders until we can alleviate this unfair cost,” he stated.

The New York Post reported that Cuomo also said that riders already have a way to get that second free transfer — by purchasing an unlimited Metrocard.

“The MTA also offers an unlimited-ride MetroCard for purchase,” the Post quoted the governor as saying. “Multiple free transfers can be made with these weekly and monthly unlimited-ride cards, and more than half of the MTA customers already use these unlimited-ride cards.”

But Dinowitz charged that the unlimited MetroCard is expensive and is not a viable option for every commuter. “It’s just not fair for people who, through no fault of their own, have to take three rides and are in a two-fare zone,” he told the Post.

A seven-day unlimited Metrocard is $31.00. A 30-day card costs $116.50.

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