New Yorkers blow up MTA fares and toll increases

If there’s one thing New Yorkers can agree on in these divided times, it’s that they don’t want to pay more for getting around the city.

A bipartisan group of politicians, transit workers, strap runners and car drivers piled on top of MTA leaders one by one Tuesday night to voice their opposition to possible fare hikes and tolls during the first official public hearing on the subject.

“Our passengers cannot just afford another fare increase,” Senator Todd Kaminsky (D-Nassau) said via Zoom.

“In order to attract ridership, it’s just the wrong thing to do and it’s a deterrent just as we want to encourage people to get back on the train.

Transit officials have offered several options for fare and toll increases next year, following the agency’s policy since 2009 to promulgate increases every two years.

In addition to increasing the metro fare by $ 2.75, people in transit are considering getting rid of unlimited time-based MetroCards, reducing the number of fare zones for commuter trains, and eliminating the discount for Staten Island residents on the Verrazzano Bridge.

Tuesday’s Zoom hearing revealed opponents from all corners of the MTA region and from all political stripes – from Kaminsky of Long Island to Nicole Malliotakis, elected US Representative (R-Staten Island), who testified in favor of maintaining the bridge handover.

“It is totally unacceptable that the rates increase,” said Nicolas Seunarine, a suburban Brooklyn.

The elected representative Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island)
The elected representative Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island)

“Democrat and Republican, we should have a reasonable rate for everyone – $ 2.75 right now, it’s very reasonable for everyone.”

Earlier Tuesday, Andrew Albert, a member of the MTA board of directors, told the Post that it made little sense to increase tariffs while simultaneously considering service cuts.

“Ask people to pay more for less service, it will make them stop and think twice before using transit and we want people to use transit,” Albert said.

“It’s a different time, and maybe it should be approached differently.”

Speaking at the start of Tuesday’s meeting, MTA Chairman Pat Foye admitted the proposals would not reduce the massive deficits caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reduced ridership by 70%.

“Our goal was to minimize the impact on New Yorkers during these difficult times,” Foye said of the proposals on the table.

“Yet we know full well that any increase will hurt New Yorkers, especially those in areas that depend on us the most.”

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