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Straphangers fire back at MTA

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Straphangers fire back at MTA

By David Freedlander and Marlene Naanes

November 6, 2007



Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz speaks at a press

conference in opposition to proposed MTA fare hikes. Photo taken

at Borough Hall in Brooklyn on November 5, 2007. (Photo by Dennis W. Ho)


The MTA board Monday faced a firing line over a proposed fare increase as angry straphangers blasted the transit agency for trying to raise prices in what they called a shoddy subway system.


"I understand once again you want to raise the price of admission ... to wait for trains that hardly ever run," said Martin Gangersky, 60, of Brighton Beach, who was among the riders speaking at a public hearing held in Brooklyn on the fare proposal.


"This is no way to run a system," he said. "The service stinks."


A veteran of fare-hike hearings and of the Straphangers Campaign, Gene Russianoff, said that one thing remains the same: "Riders are just getting by financially and this is a real blow to their ability to make it in New York."


The hearing is the first of eight public hearings being held throughout the metro area before the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board votes on a hike in December.


The MTA has said fare hikes in 2008 and 2010 are necessary to raise about $560 million as the agency faces billions in future debt.


Before the hearing started, Assemb. Jim Brennan (D-Brooklyn)and State Sen. Tom Duane (D-Manhattan) urged fellow state legislators to pass two bills they introduced that would raise almost $700 million in funds for the MTA.


"It's time for the state to step up and do its fair share in funding our mass transit system with the funding it needs and deserves," Duane said at a news conference.


He also asked the MTA to hold off on the hike until after Albany considers the bills, which could provide the additional money April 1.


However, Jeremy Soffin, an MTA spokesman, said that even if the bills passed, the funding would still be insufficient.


"We'd need a commitment closer to 2 billion before we could consider putting off a fare increase," he said.


After hearing complaints about service and fare hikes, MTA Chief Executive Elliot "Lee" Sander said service has improved during the past 20 years.


"It's not where we want to be, we want to do better and that's why we want the money to invest in the future."

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