Board Members Say They're Going To Do What They Can To Find Alternate Ways To Raise Money For Transit System


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board has postponed a scheduled fare hike vote.

Members said they’re going to look at new ways to raise money for the struggling transit system.

A key board member is demanding any fare increase be tied to improved performance.

MORE: Prominent Board Member, Gov. Cuomo Throw Monkey Wrench Into MTA’s Potential Fare Hike

The cost to commute could cost more, but not so fast. The MTA board was supposed to vote to potentially raise fares, but it was a unanimous decision — with one member abstaining — to head back to the drawing board.

“In the next month, we will be considering not only what is before us but all of the other alternatives and bring this back for a vote at our February meeting,” board member Fernando Ferrer said.

Watch: MTA Board Moves To Postpone Fare Hike Vote 

The decision followed Thursday morning’s last-ditch effort by train workers, commuters and advocates to fight against a price hike.

“We can’t afford a fare hike but also can’t bear service cuts, maintenance cuts … which we’re told may happen without a fare hike,” said Mark Epstein of the Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council.

“A fare hike should be the absolute last option,” added Riders Alliance community organizer Michael Maskin.

MORE: MTA Board Mulls Which Fare Hike To Implement Next Year

Fares were originally expected to rise roughly 4 percent come March. Lawrence Schwartz, the head of the Finance Committee, said asking riders to pay more — for worsening service — is an insult.

“I can never support a fare increase unless there’s some kind of performance improvement metrics that insures the riders that they are going to continue to see, hopefully in the future, better service and more reliability,” Schwartz said.

The decision to call off the vote likely is welcome news to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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

MORE: What’s Old Is New: Gov. Cuomo’s Bid For Control Of The MTA Echoes His Father’s Attempt To Do The Same

It’s also a sigh of relief for subway riders like Hempstead resident Barbara White, who commutes from Long Island and would get hit with a double whammy.

“I pay a double fare because I have to pay the Long Island Rail Road as well,” White said. “It would make more sense if you’re raising the fare to offer better services.”

“You know how many years they’ve been raising MetroCard prices and I still haven’t seen anything working on the trains,” Staten Island resident Marc Ocasio added.

“I think they gotta start getting rid of some mismanagement, maybe, and using the money they have better for what they need,” another person told CBS2’s DeAngelis.

If fares do eventually rise, the impact would be felt by all MTA commuters, including those who use bridges and tunnels.

Now, it appears they’ll have at least a month reprieve.