For the last few months, we’ve heard a litany of calls from politicians urging the MTA to hold off, or outright reject, the upcoming fare hike. The folks who hold the purse strings — the New York State Comptroller and the New York City Comptroller — got in on the act as well. Now, a supergroup of advocates has called on the MTA to hold off on implementing the hike until the middle of 2008.
These advocates, led of course by the ever-present Gene Russianoff, have released a letter written to MTA CEO Elliot “Lee” Sander, urging him to wait until at least March 31, 2008, to proceed with the fare hike. The letter, available here as a PDF, lays out a compelling case for the delay. Take a look:
As civic groups concerned with decent transit, we write to urge that if the MTA does adopt a fare increase for 2008, no final action be taken before March 31, 2008, at the earliest …
Right now, the MTA plan calls for a decision on fares in December 2007, to go into effect in “early 2008.” But we urge that no final action on the fare should happen before March 31, 2008. That’s because two other key actions take effect on that date.
First, this is the date by which the state legislature and New York City Council have to decide on the recommendations of the traffic congestion mitigation commission recently created by the state legislature. The commission will be considering Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing proposal, which would include new transit funding.
Second, on that same day, the MTA is required to submit its five-year, multi-billion dollar capital rebuilding plan, giving the public its detailed program for what repairs will be slated between 2008 and 2013. Our groups feel strongly that the whole range of transit funding — from operations to capital needs — should be considered as a whole, rather than piecemeal.
This is a rock-solid rebuttal to what is beginning to look more and more like an unnecessary-for-now fare hike. Of course, the MTA is pushing back. In an article in today’s Daily News, Jeremy Soffin, MTA spokesman, spoke on the need for financial relief sooner rather than later. “Our financial plan puts the MTA back on sound financial footing while actually increasing service for our ridership,” he said. “Delaying its implementation will only lead to larger fare increases and unacceptable service cuts.”
But if the city and state come through on the congestion pricing issue, won’t the MTA stand to benefit more by delaying the fare hike until every piece of the financial puzzle can be completed? I think so; Gene Russianoff thinks so; now we just have to hope the MTA thinks so too.