Shocker: MTA Board Approves Fare Hike

City Room reports:

Today’s vote came after weeks of public hearings, at which commuters and advocacy groups expressed overwhelming and nearly unanimous opposition to the fare and toll increase. In particular, opponents called on the M.T.A. board to hold off at least until April, when the State Legislature is expected to evaluate recommendations from a state commission studying Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s congestion pricing proposal and other ways to mitigate traffic.

M.T.A. executives maintained that they could not wait until then because it faces looming multibillion-dollar deficits. For the last several years, the authority has benefited from a windfall in real estate taxes, but the slowing of the housing market has slowed down even as the authority faces rising costs for four key expansion projects: the new Second Avenue subway line, the East Side Access project to link the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal, the West Side extension of the No. 7 subway line and the completion of the Fulton Street Transit Center in Lower Manhattan.

As for State Assembly member Richard Brodsky’s insistence that Albany can find ways to come up with transportation funding other than Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing proposal, City Room notes:

Barry L. Feinstein, a longtime board member who represents the governor, warned that Albany is unlikely to offer the authority a financial bailout. He predicted that the state government was facing a "dog fight" among competing priorities in education, health care and the environment.

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