NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — On Tuesday night, New Yorkers got their first opportunity to sound off on the proposed bus, subway, rail and toll hikes, as officials consider many ways to raise revenue to fix the looming transportation crisis.
The first in a series of eight public hearings kicked off at 5 p.m. at Baruch College.
For a full list of the scheduled hearings, CLICK HERE.
There’s probably no one in the entire region, except maybe members of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, who will say “yes, raise the fares.” Even Gov. Andrew Cuomo is against the idea.
That said, the unanswered question is what choice do we have?
CBS2’s Marcia Kramer witnessed firsthand Tuesday a group of disabled protesters urging people to rise and resist the people’s MTA, saying there should be no fare hike until the subways are accessible.
They were just some of the angry voices heard at the start of the first public hearing on the MTA’s proposed fare hikes. Others are looking at other ways to raise the estimated $60 billion it will take to get mass transit back on track.
“We’re going to need money from multiple sources,” said Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban policy and planning at NYU.
Web Extra: Subway Riders Sound Off At MTA Fare Hike Hearing
Moss admits we are in the midst of a transportation crisis. Daily bus and subway delays drive frustrated commuters to for-hire vehicles like Uber and Lyft. A one-year cap on those vehicles that went into effect Aug. 14 is doing little to ease street congestion.
And while the looming MTA hikes put pressure on the Legislature to enact congestion pricing, Moss said he likes the idea of raising tens of millions from a tax on marijuana sales.
“Other states have led the way to generate revenues from all kinds of things related to cannabis,” Moss said.
Tuesday night’s hearing will allow commuters to sound off on a menu of ways to hike fares and tolls. For subways and buses there are two choices:
* Option 1: Keep the base fare at $2.75 and eliminate the MetroCard bonus.
* Option 2: Increase the base fare to $3 and keep the MetroCard bonus, which amounts to buy 10, get one free.
In addition, Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road can each expect a roughly 4 percent increase.
It turns out that even though he controls the MTA, Gov. Cuomo is against the fare hike.
“The MTA’s first job is to look within. There is waste. There is inefficiency that has to end, period,” Cuomo said on the Brian Lehrer Show on Nov. 19.
Commuters say right on.
“I’m not happy about it. More money out of my pocket. I don’t like it and the service has been terrible,” one person said.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” a woman added.
“Considering the delays and everything, you have to question whether they can justify it,” Robert Welch said.
“No fare hikes. I don’t want to pay more to get around,” Nick Kapuscienski said.
“I rely on the MTA, so it really hurts a lot,” Jose Rodriguez added.
The two fare hike options currently on the table are not written in stone. A board spokesman told CBS2’s Kramer officials are open to other suggestions.
They are also waiting for a report on fare evasion from MTA President Andy Byford, which could also influence how much new revenue the agency needs to raise from the fare box.