MTA Committee Votes for Fare Hike, Hopes for State Aid

At MTA Headquarters yesterday, a lot of talk about state Senate Democrats. They're the ones resisting a rescue package that could head off fare increases and service cuts this spring.

An MTA committee voted to increase the cost of a subway ride to $2.50, in case a deal doesn't come through. Similar increases are in store for MetroCards and commuter rail roads.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, chairman Dale Hemmerdinger refused to blame the Senate for preventing the fare hikes.

HEMMERDINGER: They are just unfortunately sitting at the table at a time when the problem comes to fruition and they have to solve it, along with us, and we all have to do the best job we can given the circumstances.

REPORTER: But some commuters like Peter Judd of Manhattan are less forgiving.

JUDD: I regret that the Democratic Senate has held up a very reasonable, workable solution. They should be ashamed of themselves.

REPORTER: Republicans have vowed to vote no and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Malcom Smith is also refusing to sign onto the rescue plan endorsed by Governor Paterson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. It calls for a payroll tax and tolls on East and Harlem river bridges. A spokesman for Smith says talks with the MTA are continuing but that the state budget is taking priority.