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Local pols, community members pan fare and toll hike

Brooklyn residents and local elected officials are not taking kindly to the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s January 22 announcement that base fares for MetroCards will be raised from $2.50 to $2.75, 30-day passes from $112.00 to $116.50, and cash tolls for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge will increase $1, hiking the price up to $16, starting March, 2015.

As part of its 2015 financial plan, the MTA introduced proposals last year to raise the fares by four percent over the next two years—in order to aid in filling a $15 billion budget gap it is attempting to recover from.

“I am dissatisfied – but sadly not surprised – that the MTA has approved yet another round of fare and toll hikes,” said Councilmember Vincent Gentile. “New Yorkers are not ATM machines. No matter how small the increase, it is not a triumph if the MTA must raise fares and balance its budget on the backs of hardworking New Yorkers.”

Other local officials concur, among them State Senator Martin Golden and Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, who have been encouraging community members to a sign a petition since March, and who have renewed their call for discounted tolls for Brooklynites crossing the Verrazano Bridge.

“The rising cost of the Verrazano Bridge toll has become prohibitive not only for Staten Island residents, but for Brooklyn residents as well,” said Golden. “On a regular basis, I speak with folks who live in my district, and work in Staten Island, and we recognize the true cost this toll is having on personal finances.”

“We were able to achieve toll relief for Staten Island because the community stood united and were vocal,” said Malliotakis. “The people of Brooklyn have put forth a vigorous fight thus far, but now it’s time to increase the pressure.”

MTA documents state that while “costs continue to rise, the MTA has cut more than $1 billion from its operating budget” and for this reason, proposed the fare and toll increases.

“The MTA has been able to limit these fare and toll increases to the equivalent of two percent a year thanks to our continued aggressive cost-cutting, while still adding service and improving service quality for our growing number of customers,” said MTA Chairperson and CEO Thomas Prendergast. “Our financial plan assumes modest biennial fare and toll increases, and the board has chosen options with lower increases for our most frequent customers.”

Nonetheless, these frequent customers are not satisfied

“I feel like the service keeps getting worse but the price keeps going up,” said Ridgeite Jeanne P.

“I’m pretty upset, added Nicole H. “It’s already expensive and I use the subway for work and school.”

At least one pol is looking toward the state capital for help.

“Despite the MTA’s attempt to keep prices low, it is my hope that the agency draws back its spending or improves the system for all New Yorkers,” said Councilmember Jumaane Williams. “I call on our elected officials in Albany to help the MTA find a better way to secure funding so biennial fare hikes at the commuter’s expense does not become the norm.”

 

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