Tag Archives: Metropolitan Transit Authority

MTA improvement plan may benefit restoration of Rockaway Beach Rail Line


| slicata@queenscourier.com

File photo

South Queens has one of the longest commute times to Midtown Manhattan out of any area in the five boroughs. But changes may soon be made as part of a new study released by the Metropolitan Transit Authority that could undermine a proposal to turn an unused Queens rail line into a park.

In the study, the MTA Transportation Reinvention Commission proposes to “aggressively expand the capacity of the existing [MTA] system.”

The newly released MTA study was welcome news to Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, who has been advocating for improvements to the already existing infrastructure where the Rockaway Beach Rail Line once was.

“Support for reactivation of the rail line continues to grow and this new report drafted by leading transit experts is a huge step in the right direction,” said Goldfeder. “The Commission recognizes that reactivating unused rights-of-way such as the Rockaway Beach Rail Line is the best and most cost-effective way to improve access to transit for hundreds of thousands of Queens families.”

The report finds that the economic success of New York is dependent on a world class transportation system and that the MTA must continue to make improvements to it if it wants to keep this economic growth.

“New York will never have a world-class transit system unless the MTA reinvents itself and the public invests in it. A robust transportation network is essential to the region, but its past achievements do not make future success inevitable,” said Ray LaHood, co-chair of the Transportation Reinvention Commission and former U.S. Secretary of Transportation. “Our work shows that the MTA can meet the array of challenges it faces, but doing so will require careful stewardship, creative thinking and heightened investment to ensure it can continue to be the engine that drives New York.”

The MTA study comes as a group has been advocating for a project called QueensWay, inspired by Manhattan’s High Line, which would convert the long-dormant rail line into a public park stretching across a wide swath of Queens.

The report released seven key strategies for improving transportation throughout the city. It states that the MTA must make investments designed to serve existing and emerging population and employment centers that are not well served by the existing system while also “pursuing new flexible service alternatives and operating modes.”

This expansion is already taking place in south Queens with plans being discussed for Select Bus Service on Woodhaven Boulevard.

The reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line could result in 500,000 daily trips and would cost the MTA around $700 million, according to a recent Queens College study.
Goldfeder believes this is a significant step forward in his fight to bring rail service along the line back to south Queens.

“I’m pleased that the Commission recognizes what our communities have known for a long time — that using this right-of-way is our best option for cutting commute times, growing our small businesses, and building a stronger, more resilient transit network,” concluded Goldfeder.

“Residents overwhelmingly support the reactivation of the rail line and I will continue to work with the MTA and my colleagues to make that dream a reality.”

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MTA announces fare and toll hike proposals


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA

Today the Metropolitan Transit Authority officially announced its proposals for the fare and toll hikes that are planned for March.

The agency said that the increases will bring in “vitally needed revenue to support the New York region’s transportation system.”

The MTA is considering four options that would increase bus and subway rides.

On October 10, the New York Daily News published those options ahead of time. Though the MTA would not confirm whether those were its actual proposals, the ones it revealed today did reflect the ones the paper released.

Two options keep the base fare at $2.25; the other two raise it to $2.50.

If the base fare stays the same, the cost of a weekly unlimited MetroCard would go up from $29 to $34 and the monthly from $104 to $125. The seven percent discount for every $10 put on a MetroCard would be lowered to five percent.

The second option would raise unlimited rides to $32 and $119, but eliminate the discount.

If the MTA raises the base fare to $2.50, then straphangers would keep the seven percent discount, but pay more for an unlimited MetroCard ($30 and $112).

The final option would keep weekly unlimited MetroCards at $29, and only increase the monthly by $5, but the base fare would be $2.50, and there would be no discounts.

There are also four proposals for express buses. Again, two would keep the base fare, which is currently $5.50, and the two others would raise it 50 cents. The options would also have similar trade-offs for MetroCard discounts and unlimited rides.

Most of Long Island Railroad and Metro-North tickets would go up by 8.19 to 9.31 percent, said the MTA.

These hikes would be the fourth increase in five years for subway, bus and commuter rail fares and that is one too many said public transportation advocacy group, the Straphangers Campaign, following the MTA’s fare proposals announcement.

“Blocking or reducing the fare increase is possible, if we get more help from Albany,” said Straphangers spokesperson Gene Russianoff. “One promising plan is to generate new revenue by both raising and lowering tolls on city bridges and tunnels in line with where there is the most and least congestion.”

The proposals that the MTA announced Monday would raise the tolls for many area bridges and tunnels. Though E-ZPass customers would still pay less than other drivers, everyone will be paying more.

Those increases include raising the tolls for the Queens Midtown Tunnel, Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, Throgs Neck Bridge, Bronx-Whitestone Bridge and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel from $4.80 to $5.30 for E-ZPass holders and from $6.50 to $7.50 for other drivers.

Tolls for the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge would go up between 12 and 33 cents, depending on whether the driver has an EZ-Pass or is a Rockaway resident.

In November, a month before the MTA votes on how it’s going to raise tolls and fares, the agency is letting the public weigh in on the options in a series of public and video forums. It is also accepting public statements via email and regular mail.

“The public will have significant input into our decision-making process. In the spirit of transparency, the public will assist in shaping our fare policy,” said MTA chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota. “These proposals have been designed to balance our need for revenue with public involvement. We need to hear from the public. Feedback evaluating the specific alternatives we’ve put forward is particularly useful, but we value all our customers’ input, and we’ll consider changes to our proposals based on what we hear and read.”