Finance Chair Says Increase Only With Service Improvements; Cuomo Says He'll Support If Agency Management Is Fixed


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There is turmoil at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

As the agency gets ready to vote on a fare hike on Thursday, a key board member is demanding that increases be tied to better service and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is urging a postponement until there are management reforms, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Wednesday.

The message is terse — no green light for the MTA’s expected 4 percent fare hike unless it’s tied to service improvements for commuters.

“I’m not going to insult the riders of the MTA by asking them to pay more and having service get worse,” MTA Finance Committee chairman Lawrence Schwartz said.

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FILE — Metro-North Railroad Train (credit: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

Schwartz, who wields a lot of influence, said he will ask the board to demand verifiable service targets, better on-time performance, fewer equipment breakdowns and that enough seats be provided for riders as part a toll and fare hike. But with the vote right around the corner there has been another development — a wait-a-minute move by the governor.

“I do not support a fare increase until the management is resolved and answered,” Cuomo said during a phone interview.

The governor said one person needs to be in charge and held accountable. While many think Cuomo already controls the MTA, he said he doesn’t because he controls just six of 14 votes.

“Put the mayor in charge. Put me in charge. Put Marcia Kramer in charge. Somebody has to be in charge,” Cuomo said.

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Meanwhile, Schwartz said he intends to make sure the agencies that run the subways, buses and commuter rails meet performance targets by adopting the NYPD’s CompStat program.

“They call in the borough commanders and they look at the stats and the specifics and say, ‘Why is this happening? Why is that happening?’ And ‘What are you doing about it?'” Schwartz said.

While better performance appears to be the goal, not every rider thinks the MTA can perform. One woman told CBS2’s Kramer she’s not on board with a fare hike unless some things change.

“No, because the trains is always late and the system is terrible. They need to straighten that out first before they hike up the fare,” she said.

“I’m always skeptical when it comes to this,” a man added.

“It’s a promise and we don’t know the future, whether or not it’s going to be fulfilled,” another person said.

“I don’t think they’d happen. That’s just not the away MTA works and I worked for them at one point,” said Ellen Weiman of the Upper West Side.

Schwartz said he intends to convene a working group to find new ways to raise revenue. One idea, he said, is to make tourists pay by imposing an MTA surcharge on hotel rooms and Airbnb rooms.