Monday, March 23, 2009
By Matthew Schuerman : Editor, WNYC
An MTA Committee has said 'yes' to mass transit fare hikes. The unanimous vote by the Finance Committee is the first of two approvals needed before a single ride rises to $2.50. Board members say state lawmakers should step in with a rescue plan before the full board votes on Wednesday.
Allen Cappelli, a board member from Staten Island, says time is running out. 'There are 45 hours before this disaster goes into effect and I hope that something will sink in with both the Democrats and the Republicans,' says Cappelli.
Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger struck a conciliatory tone to reporters afterwards, saying he was optimistic that the state Senate would step in to prevent those fares from taking effect. 'They are going to make it happen, I believe, as soon as they can get together and figure out what they as a majority want to do it,' says Hemmerdinger. 'They will do it as soon as they can I'm sure they want to do it as quickly as we want them to do it.'
Commuters at Grand Central Station this afternoon generally didn't like hearing the latest news about train service. Manhattan resident Eileen Conway, 26, who takes the subway regularly, said it comes at the wrong time. 'A lot of people don't have the funds that they did even six months ago and the fact that they are working with less and having to pay more is incredible,' says Conway.
Metro-North riders would also see their fares go up. Cesar Rodriguez takes occasional trips down to Manhattan from his home near Beacon. But he doubts he will come as often if the off-peak fare goes up from $12 to $15 as approved today. 'It's like they don't want you to come down here,' says Rodriguez. 'As soon as you come down they want to hit you over the head right away.'
Governor Paterson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have reached an agreement. But the Democratic majority of the state Senate has rejected the bridge tolls on the East River as a means of helping the MTA, while Republicans are resisting the payroll tax.