Doomsday News: MTA Votes, Paterson Plays Chicken, Monserrate Indicted

3379657346_fddfc8a28c.jpgPhoto: The Daily Politics

The MTA’s doomsday scenario came closer to fruition today, as agency board members took a step toward implementing planned fare hikes and service reductions while state lawmakers appeared mired in stalemate. Here are a few tidbits.

Newsday filed this report on the MTA Finance Committee meeting (as live-blogged by Second Avenue Sagas), where members voted to recommend revenue-saving measures to the full board, now set to make its decision on Wednesday:

MTA board chairman H. Dale Hemmerdinger urged the agency’s finance committee to adopt the fare hikes and service cuts even though he called them "horrific."

"This represents as good a job as human beings can do to divide the pain as equally as we can," he said.

The vote took place as state lawmakers in Albany sought to reach a compromise on a bailout plan that would avoid the worst of the planned fare increases and service cuts.

At a news conference after the committee vote in Manhattan, Hemmerdinger was asked if he had any message for Albany. He said, "How about: ‘Help!’"

In Albany, Governor Paterson engaged in what Liz Benjamin of The Daily Politics described as "a game of political chicken" when, flanked by a silent Malcolm Smith and Sheldon Silver, he urged the MTA to go ahead with higher fares and service cuts without waiting on assistance from the legislature.

"Delaying action, to me, would just ring too true to what’s gone on in Albany too many times," Paterson said. "I’m not in favor of delaying any action that was scheduled."

In Fare Hike Four news, Senator Hiram Monserrate was indicted for allegedly stabbing his girlfriend with a drinking glass last December. If convicted, Monserrate faces seven years in prison — and, says one City Room commenter of today’s developments, "will probably guarantee his re-election."

  • Glenn

    Why spread the pain evenly? Focus the service cuts in the handful of Senate districts that are holding up a deal. Or end free transfers to keep the fare at $2.

  • t

    These proposed fare hikes are an assault on the working class. A $22 dollar increase on a monthly card represents about three hours’ pay to someone working minimum wage. (And that’s before taxes are taken out. Post-taxes, it’s an even bigger share.) With the cost of everything going up and with wages stagnating, I’m afraid that the fare increase will have the negative affect of hurting the economy more than it helps the MTA.

    More time spent commuting to and from work, based on proposed service cuts, represents an even bigger stab in the financial back to those paid by the hour.

    Toll the bridges. I doubt too many drivers earn $7.15 an hour.

  • I live in Senator Carl Krugers district and just called again and asked why Carl won’t vote for ERB tolls. I was told that the Senator called for the MTA to open their books and sell off their real estate. There is no reason for people in Brooklyn to pay for going to the city. He said that owning a car is already so expensive that they don’t want to make it any more expensive. To this I told him that 18,000 people us the Kings Highway station daily. This is the fifth busiest station in all of Brooklyn and fewer than the 6000 of the 103,000 people that commute to work take the bridges. At the end of the day I and another 56,000 of his constituents will be paying 2.50 a fare, not to mention so many seniors who won’t be able to afford access-a-ride. To these comments there was no response. He really needs to be voted out of office as he has become too comfortable in his position.

  • “I was told that the Senator called for the MTA to open their books and sell off their real estate. There is no reason for people in Brooklyn to pay for going to the city.”

    I pay to go into the city from Brooklyn (by subway) every day. Why is THAT alright with Kruger? What a load of crap.

  • t

    That’s the amazing thing. We live in a political climate where a 50 cent toll on East River bridges — about 15 dollars a month — would be politically untenable, but a $22 increase for subway and bus riders is perfectly fine.

  • Matt

    Since it appears very likely that this fare increase will be approved, I’m considering purchasing a half-dozen month metrocards at the current $81 fee to use over the next 6-months. Does anyone know any reason why this won’t work?

    Thanks

  • Matt,

    There is a cutoff date that will be set for using old unlimited metrocards. Say the new fares go into effect on June 1, on May 31 you can usually buy 3 monthly metrocards that won’t expire by the time you need to use them.

  • vnm

    I was told that the Senator called for the MTA to open their books and sell off their real estate.

    When is this charade going to stop? The MTA posts all of its audited financial information on it’s website, and also its forward-looking budgets.

    MTA Audited Financial Statements

    Much more MTA financial information

    MTA Budget

    Much more MTA budget information

    If he wants to look at the MTA’s books, Kruger just needs to get a computer with an Internet connection. High speed is preferable, but dial-up will do.

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