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Controller: MTA not reimbursed for millions in student fares

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Controller: MTA not reimbursed for millions in student fares

BY PETE DONOHUE

DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Monday, November 5th 2007, 4:00 AM

 

[float=right]amd_halt-the-hike_logo.gif[/float]The subways are the yellow school bus for hundreds of thousands of kids - but it's the MTA that's being taken for a ride.

 

During the 2005-2006 school year, students took $161.5 million in bus and subway trips, according to an analysis of transit data by the city controller. Yet the city and state paid the MTA only $90 million - meaning the MTA took a $71.5 million hit that year alone, the analysis found.

 

The tab paid by the city and state hasn't budged for 12 years.

 

As transit costs have climbed, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority reimbursement for student riders from the city and state has been flat at $90 million since 1995 - the year it was cut from $130 million.

 

Transit advocates argue the MTA should first look for extra cash from Albany and City Hall before turning to straphangers, who face a fare hike in February - the third since 2003.

 

The first public hearings on the proposal are tonight in Brooklyn and Nyack, Rockland County.

 

"There are sufficient revenue sources - such as this - to ensure that New York City riders don't get hit with a fare hike," said Jeff Simmons, a spokesman for city Controller William Thompson. "This is one way that could lessen that need."

 

At least 110 state legislators have said they oppose the hike since the Daily News launched its "Halt the Hike" campaign on Oct. 24.

 

"State and local government - the state Legislature, governor, mayor and City Council - need to put their shoulder to the wheel to come up with a plan to address the MTA's financial problems," said Assemblyman James Brennan (D-Brooklyn). Brennan is the prime sponsor of two bills that would increase MTA funding by about $700 million next year.

 

Mayor Bloomberg's office said the city already pays a sizable chunk of the bill.

 

"The city not only contributes to the cost of transporting students at a rate equal to the state, but also contributes to the MTA through other funding categories," Bloomberg spokesman John Gallagher said yesterday.

 

Most lawmakers opposed to the hike have asked the MTA to delay implementation until April15. That way they can seek extra money for the MTA during budget deliberations and, if successful, cancel the fare increases.

 

MTA officials say they need $262 million more next year from straphangers and drivers to start addressing big deficits expected to hit in 2009.

 

Gov. Spitzer has been silent on whether he supports boosting state funding of the MTA.

 

Some city Democrats are hopeful. "The governor has said that unlike prior administrations, the state would play a role in the finances of the MTA," said state Sen. John Sabini (D-Queens).

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Another way the MTA is losing money is when School kids get on the bus many drivers put their hand over the Metrocard slot because they think all the kids are riding for free. However some kids don't ride for free and pay half fare. Another thing that can be done to gain money is have Transit Police at major stops along different bus routes and give fines to people who enter through the back door

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The reason why drivers let the kids ride for free sometimes, is the union and MTA said the kids ride whether they have card or not. An incident happened a few years ago, and telling kids they can't ride is a huge no-no. It doesn't matter if school is out, they ride regardless.

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I've seen plenty of drivers who told kids to get off the bus because they didn't have the fare. I also see alot of drivers who don't want kids on their bus, I was on a bus with only half the seats full and a driver opened the door at a school and said no kids on this bus. All the kids got on anyway and he put the destination sign on call police and went inside the school and brought out the pricipal and threw all the kids off the bus. Another time I saw a bus driver switch the sign to not in service while he was passing a school.

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An incident? What kind of an incident?

 

A high schoolgirl was out late at night (coming from work IIRC), and had no bus fare. A B/O refused to let her on. She went missing and was found raped and dead. Our union has told us about it, and so has the TA. We MUST let school kids on regardless. NO ifs, ands, or buts. You don't, it gets reported or something happens, it is your job, period.

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