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Mugged by the MTA with fare hikes

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Mugged by the MTA with fare hikes

By PETE DONOHUE

DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Thursday, December 20th 2007, 4:00 AM

 

[float=right]amd_protest.jpg

Protesters’ pleas were ignored by the MTA

board as it voted at its Manhattan

headquarters.[/float]They ride for free but you'll be paying more - and more. Metropolitan Transportation Authority board members, who receive free lifetime travel passes, voted 12-2 Wednesday to impose fare and toll hikes that go into effect in March.

 

Gov. Spitzer's handpicked transit chiefs also signaled they could do it again in two years. MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger said the vote "establishes the practice of smaller but more regular increases."

 

More than 8 million people use the authority's buses, subways, commuter trains, bridges and tunnels every day.

 

"It's a lot of B.S.," Denise Hutchinson, 49, an office clerk from Brooklyn, said at a subway stop in Queens. "They don't spend money wisely. They're taking it out on us folks who are working our butts off to survive."

 

Mailman Mark Wilson, 26, of Forest Hills, Queens, said he just might ditch his MetroCard.

 

"It's a rotten deal," he said of the third-round of increases since 2003. "I'm tired of it. I'm going to change from taking the subway to driving."

 

MTA board members, who are unpaid, are eligible for lifetime travel passes for all parts of the authority's vast network. That includes subways, buses, and Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North commuter trains.

 

Five board members who voted for hikes Wednesday told the Daily News they have at least one freebie pass: Donald Cecil, Jim Sedore, Norman Seabrook, Susan Metzger and Frank Powers.

 

Five others had passes in 2004 and presumably haven't put them into the shredder: Barry Feinstein, Mark Page, Mark Lebow, David Mack and John Banks.

 

The mayor endorsed the fare hikes, and his four representatives voted accordingly.

 

"I would love not to have a fare increase, but if you want to have more security, more service, cleaner stations, all of those kinds of operational things ... you are going to have to pay," Bloomberg said. "Saying it's somebody else's problem is not the right answer."

 

The 2008 budget adopted Wednesday keeps the $2 base subway/bus fare unchanged but raises the price of the monthly MetroCard $5, to $81; the weekly MetroCard by $1, to $25, and commuter train passes by 4%.

 

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester) complained that large corporations, real estate companies and others that benefit from the mass transit system also weren't targeted.

 

"The MTA leadership, the governor and the mayor have decided to let the rich off the hook and put the burden on the back of the little guy," Brodsky said.

 

Brodsky led a charge by more than 100 legislators to persuade Gov. Spitzer and the MTA to at least delay hikes until April 15 so lawmakers could fight for more transit money in state budget deliberations.

 

Board member Mitch Pally and MTA finance committee Chairman Andrew Saul voted against the hikes.

 

The MTA is ending this year with a $521 million surplus, and without hikes would end next year with a $214 million surplus.

 

While flush with money now, the MTA faces staggering deficits down the track "largely because of the absence of support from Albany and the city," MTA CEO Elliot Sander said.

 

Sander said one reason he didn't ask Spitzer for more money to halt the fare hike was because the authority will be asking the state for billions of dollars for capital construction.

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Who is the little guy Brodsky is talking about? He represents those who lives in areas where the houses and property are larger than we can ever wish to live in. As for the man who said he should ditch his MetroCard and drive. Well let's see.

 

1. $81 dollars a month for MetroCard, compared to $200 a month for parking in Manhattan, in a cheap garage.

 

2. $81 dollars a month for a MetroCard compared to $200+ a month for gas for a car ($50+ a week)

 

3. $81 a month for MetroCard compared to the maintenance cost for a car (brakes can cost $700+ easily).

 

Lets just take the first two. If he drives and pays for cheap parking in Manhattan, that will cost him $400 dollars a month. He should go and ditch his Metrocard. He would REALLY save :D. He could take a for hire vehicle for $20 each way. That'll cost him $800 a month. He could find street parking with his car, and get a $135 ticket. He already lost in one shot $54 extra dollars.

 

Those who use the unlimited still get a bargain since they still won't be paying the $2 base fare for the subways and buses. You have no cheaper alternative. This is the greatest bargain you can get unless you have a bike that you can ride.

 

I love when people complain about fares rising. They never think before they speak, of the cost of alternatives. Efficient alternatives seem to cost at least 4 times more a month. I'll stop making sense now.

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Who is the little guy Brodsky is talking about? He represents those who lives in areas where the houses and property are larger than we can ever wish to live in. As for the man who said he should ditch his MetroCard and drive. Well let's see.

 

Good point. He lives in Forest Hills, Queens. But I (*points to self*) live in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx. That means that I (*points to self again*) get to complain about the fare hike, but you (*points in other direction*) don't!

 

(Nah, just kidding.)

 

Seriously, with the expense of maintaining a car and parking these days (not to mention the outrageously high insurance fees), a five-dollar increase each month for a MetroCard is really nothing we should complain about.

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Good point. He lives in Forest Hills, Queens. But I (*points to self*) live in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx. That means that I (*points to self again*) get to complain about the fare hike, but you (*points in other direction*) don't!

 

(Nah, just kidding.)

 

Seriously, with the expense of maintaining a car and parking these days (not to mention the outrageously high insurance fees), a five-dollar increase each month for a MetroCard is really nothing we should complain about.

 

I forget the insurance, which is the one of the true high cost of a car. When I first got a car (I was 19) I was paying more than $300 a month for insurance alone. Now luckily it's less than half of that, and only for 8 months.

 

You know those Gypsy cabs cost an arm and a leg to go around the corner.

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