Statement From Andrew Raia On Today’s MTA ‘Doomsday’ Vote

Fare hikes, service cuts would run LI’s commuters into ground, says lawmaker
March 25, 2009

“Today’s 12 to 1 vote by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to raise fares on subway, bus, and rail commuters represents both a failure of leadership by Albany’s leading elected officials as well as a lack of fiscal restraint from an out-of-touch agency that finds itself $1.2 billion short of funds even though Long Islanders pay no fewer than five taxes to finance its operations,” said Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R,I,C-East Northport). “The MTA owes more to the 8.5 million daily commuters it serves than today’s irresponsible action. A 23 percent average fare increase for Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) users on June 1 under this ‘doomsday’ budget can only mean more misery for working families facing the collapse of our region’s housing market and a decline in take-home pay. Governor Paterson has failed to take seriously the implications of cost hikes and service cutbacks on daily commuters; with five appointees on the executive board of the MTA, he has let down the people of Long Island when we needed his leadership the most. If the governor does not act to pass a comprehensive financial package for the agency, the MTA will eliminate a major peak-hour train running through the 9th Assembly District, according to the Regional Plan Association’s Web site.

Any plan to balance the MTA’s books must include a restructuring of its management. The agency’s 17-member board is more illustrative of no-show-job political patronage than expertise – a quality which we need most if the MTA is to overcome its current budget deficit and pay for its operating and capital expenses over the next five years. On Monday, according to published reports, board member Nancy Shevell missed the finance committee’s vote on fare hikes in order to attend a London film premiere with Paul McCartney. Where is the outrage? When Norman Seigel, former public advocate candidate, asked board members how many of them actually used mass transit before the official vote was recorded, only a minority raised their hands. Where is their sense of decency toward those of us who don’t live in Manhattan and can’t, like Nancy Shevell, escape at a moment’s notice?

Governor Paterson, I am calling on you to act. New service cuts and an extra 23 percent in fare prices for LIRR commuters will put them on a road to ruin. Reverse the MTA’s vote immediately.”