Brooklyn MTA hearing on fare hikes attracts protest
The second in a series of bad news tours for the MTA board opened at Long Island University Monday night as straphangers brought forth a myriad of issues to justify not raising transit fares.
The transit authority began hosting public hearings around the city to get feedback on the two options for the next round of fare and toll hikes that may take effect in March 2019 — the sixth such increase since 2009.
A large crowd jammed into the LIU auditorium, unwilling to shoulder another fare hike this time around. About 50 protestors massed outside led by several elected officials and advocacy groups protesting the idea.
The MTA is fighting a budget crisis, as subway and bus service lags amid a mix of government underinvestment and poor management, according to commuter advocates. But without the hikes and several new revenue sources, the MTA will be forced to slash service on subways and bus routes, officials warned.
Fernando Ferrer, chairman of the MTA board warned at the Baruch College hearing in November, “We need to do something, because we don’t have enough money to run the system without serious cuts in service.”
Yosenia Torres of the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled said service is already inadequate for disabled riders. She said an increase in fare would not only raise the price to $3, but would also increase her Access-A-Ride payments, as the two are tied together as a base fare.
“Some of our group opposes a fare hike altogether, but we agree that raising the base fare is the wrong move by the board,” Torres said to the board. “I can tell you many stories about missed pick-ups, late pick-ups, long rides, that nobody will put up with. We don’t deserve a fare hike and urge you to reject it.”
Cameron Bryan, a student at Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights and a member of the Straphangers Campaign, said he speaks for the many students who have missed classes, were late, or were reprimanded because trains held them up.
“Students are constantly fighting to get ahead, but we feel like the MTA is holding us back,” Bryan said.
Debra Greif of Sheepshead Bay complained that buses are constantly late and that there are inadequate transfers to trains in two-fare zones. She also complained that train stations lack elevators and are therefore inaccessible for handicapped riders.
“People with disability who have low income will have a hardship on them,” Grief said. “It will also be a hardship on the working poor in our city. That’s why we must think real hard about how we will do this fare hike.”
Ultimately, the MTA’s board, who were present at this and all of these hearings, will have the final say. Board members are slated to vote on the fare increases next month and at that point will decide just how to accomplish those increases.