Queens residents sound off on MTA fare hikes

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The MTA held a public hearing in Queens on November 15 allowing residents to speak out about the proposed fare hikes.THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes
The MTA held a public hearing in Queens on November 15 allowing residents to speak out about the proposed fare hikes.

Chris Coury pleaded with officials from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), telling them that paying to get to and from is making a “big dent” in his wallet.

“Please, be reasonable,” urged Coury, a recent college graduate, to a panel of MTA board members at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel.

The MTA has been touring the city, stopping in each borough to allow residents to sound off on the proposed fare hikes.

In October, the transit authority unveiled four proposals for fare hikes, one of which will be put into place March of next year. Under the first proposal, the MetroCard base fare would rise from $2.25 to $2.50, leaving the seven percent bonus discount unchanged, but increasing a 30-day unlimited pass to $112, and a seven-day to $30. In another, the base fare would remain unchanged; the bonus discount would be reduced to five percent, increasing the 30-day pass to $125, and the seven-day to $34. Another option is to eliminate the bonus discount, increasing the 30-day pass to $119 and the seven-day to $32. The proposals would also increase bus fares and bridge and tunnel tolls.

According to the MTA’s website, the fare hikes would “raise additional, vitally needed revenue to support the New York region’s transportation system,” since these proposals come “during an era of successful and unprecedented MTA management actions to cut controllable expenses.”

Joseph Lhota, MTA Chair and CEO; Stephen Morello, Counselor to the Chair; Helena Williams, Long Island Railroad (LIRR) President; Thomas Pendergast, New York City transit President; and several other MTA board members were in attendance at the Thursday, November 15 public hearing.

Coury, who recently graduated from Berkeley College in Midtown, now lives in Flushing and works part-time to pay off his student loans. He said that the proposed hikes will only take a bigger bite out of his budget.

Roughly 20 residents and Assemblymember Ed Braunstein spoke out against the fare increases, many calling them “unfair,” “ridiculous” and “outrageous.”

Jason Chin-Fatt of the NYC Straphangers Campaign spoke out on behalf of a number of rider testimonies submitted to their organization, and compared choosing one of the four MTA proposals to “picking your poison.”

Several students from Queens College attended the hearing, claiming that because they are largely a commuter school, many of them would suffer.

“An increased fare could be the roadblock between a students and their degree,” said student Jaqi Cohen.

The MTA panel listened to each speaker, and will take each testimony into account when making their final vote. There will be two more public hearings the week of November 26, one in Staten Island and another on Long Island. After the last hearing, the board will vote on passing one of the four proposals.

For more information on the MTA fare hike proposals and to submit rider testimony, straphangers can visit www.mta.info.