Andrew Saul is the Vice Chairman of the MTA Board. As such, you would imagine that Mr. Saul cares deeply about the upcoming fare hike. You may even believe that Mr. Saul would go out of his way to attend the fare hike meetings. And you would be wrong.
Saul, we learned last week, was one of the three MTA board members who couldn’t make it to a single fare hike hearing. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that Saul had already decided to the support the fare hike no matter what. Well, guess what? You’re wrong again.
In what I can only call a surprise announcement, Andrew Saul, according to The Daily News, plans to vote against the fare hike. Pete Donohue has more:
“I am against this fare hike proposal,” board Vice Chairman Andrew Saul declared. “A fare increase is always a hardship and the last option I consider to cover budget shortfalls.”
Instead of seeking higher fares from millions of daily subway, bus and commuter train riders, Saul – who also heads the board’s finance committee – said he would continue to pursue savings within the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
He also pledged support to lawmakers seeking more mass transit funding from Gov. Spitzer and the state Legislature. Spitzer unveils his first budget and the Legislature reconvenes in January.
Great. This is good news for opponents of the hike even if the fare increases seem inevitable right now.
But I have to wonder why Saul didn’t go to the fare hikes to lend his support to the public testifying against the fare hikes. If he’s so convinced that asking the legislature for more money and internal belt-tightening can cover the multi-billion-dollar gap that the MTA is projected, why didn’t he say so on the record during one of the hearings?
Maybe it’s because Saul, who is running for Congress in New York’s 19th District, knows that the MTA needs the funds from the hike but doesn’t find it politically expedient to voice his support for an increase that will inevitably pass muster with the MTA board. I don’t think his MetroNorth-riding constituents would look too kindly upon a vote for the fare hike during a hotly-contested Congressional race. Hmmm.