Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R,I,C,WF-East Northport) attended the Metropolitan Transportation Authorityís (MTA) public hearing Tuesday night at the Huntington Hilton to discuss his opposition to the planned railroad, bridge and tunnel rate increase. Raia questioned the necessity of the rate increase, especially in light of last yearís 25 percent hike and the absence of service increases.
"For the past two years, I have fought hard to ensure that the MTA is run as efficiently as possible," Raia said. "Iíve supported initiatives to implement a way to ensure oversight to help guarantee commuters receive the most efficient, comfortable ride at the lowest cost. But despite my public support of these initiatives, rate increases by the MTA continue to be a problem.
"On the heels of last yearís 25 percent rate increase, the MTAís newest call for yet another fare hike only serves to stress why it is crucial that oversight be implemented to ensure that public review and accountability are brought to the MTA. Consideration for property valuation and neighborhood impact must be a priority."
Assemblyman Raia has been outspoken on issues involving the MTA. He has publicly opposed unchecked rate increases, and called for the MTA to work with elected officials and with more public involvement, especially because services havenít increased despite the jump in costs. Last year, he also led the fight against placement of an electric car storage facility within the district and requested MTA consider the impact on property valuation and neighborhood residents. Other initiatives supported by Raia include:
- Establishing central procurement offices with an inspector general and an independent budget officer in each office to provide public scrutiny and responsiveness for the many public authorities and public benefit corporations in the state.
- Requiring the MTA to submit reports entailing safety, security and health policies, and a review of studies that detail attacks, injuries and deaths on MTA premises and facilities.
- Establishing an MTA Operating Program Review Board (OPRB) requiring the MTA to provide monthly and annual financial reports, as well as a biennial report on the potential for future rate increases. The OPRB should include an independent budget office that requires the MTA to produce annual reports on the safety and health of its passengers and employees.
"Many Long Islanders rely on the commuter rail for transportation," Raia concluded. "These simple initiatives Iíve outlined would prevent overinflated rates in the future and provide a better rapport between the community and MTA. As for the new rate increase Ė I urge the MTA to reconsider."