Opponents sound off on proposed fare hike
by Kathleen Lees
Nov 20, 2012 | 417 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Members Jacqi Cohen, Victoria Brown and Coury Chris hold a sign stating their views at the MTA hearing in Flushing
Members Jacqi Cohen, Victoria Brown and Coury Chris hold a sign stating their views at the MTA hearing in Flushing
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Last Thursday's Metropolitan Transportation Authority meeting in Flushing gave frustrated commuters the chance to voice concerns about the proposed MTA fare and toll hikes.

The vote for the increased proposal will be decided at an MTA hearing on Dec. 19, and would go into affect as early as March 1, raising the 30-day MetroCard from $104 a month to a possible $125.

The price of an unlimited weekly fare card would also rise from $29 to $34. This would be the fourth increase in five years, and the sixth since 2003.

“People depend on the subway, and they just couldn't incur any sort of fair hike,” said Enrico Puerdito, a local resident and project coordinator for the Straphangers Campaign, a public interest research group that advocates for New York City transit users.

Puerdito passed out flyers of testimony from a recent hearing on the proposed fare increases,

showing that students would be one of the groups to suffer most from the hikes.

“You have to make sure that students are able to get to school to get that diploma,” he said.

Puerdito was one of several students attending from Queens College, a commuter school that relies heavily on public transit.

“Please be reasonable and make the MetroCard fair,” said Jaqi Cohen, a student at Queens. “We need more positive communication with those in charge.”

Many residents and officials have been calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to stop the fare hike. And this past summer, Transportation Alternatives launched a petition calling on Cuomo to stop upcoming fare hikes by investing in public transit, which has so far gained over 17,000 signatures.

“New York City riders oppose this increase,” said Michael Sinansky, vice-chair of the New York City Transit Riders Council and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall's representative to the Transit Riders Council.

Praising MTA officials for their quick help during the hurricane, he added that while riders should share responsibility for funding increased operating costs, it should be reasonable.

“Transit riders already pay the highest percentage of operating expenditures of any large transit system in the nation,” Sinansky said.

However, despite the controversial proposal, few showed up to the event, even with the MTA providing free shuttle bus service for Rockaway residents that wished to attend the hearing.

Regardless, opponents of the hikes are going to work to spread the word.

“How do you cut it evenly? You can't,” Puerdito said. “In the end, somebody's going to lose.”

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