By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The proposed transit fare increases announced by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (M.T.A.) on Oct. 15 will wind up hurting Brooklyn businesses, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Carlo Scissura predicted.
The M.T.A. is looking to hike bus and subway fares from $2.25 a ride to $2.50. The agency is also seeking increases in bridge and tunnel tolls.
"The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce is committed to maintaining the affordability of our public transit system for borough residents who use it on a daily basis. The buses and subways are the lifeblood for commerce in Brooklyn and all across the city. The proposals put forward by the M.T.A. would hurt riders and local businesses at a time when the economy is in a phase of recovery,” Scissura said.
“In addition, raising express bus fares would severely hurt areas of Southern Brooklyn underserved by mass transit. This is an unfair burden for them to shoulder at a time when residents of those neighborhoods already pay some of the highest commuting costs in the city" he said.
In the face of widespread criticism of the proposed fare and toll increases, M.T.A. officials defended the move, citing the need to add revenue to support the New York region's transportation system.
The M.T.A. has worked to lower its costs, according to Chairman and C.E.O. Joseph Lhota. “Costs that the MTA does not exercise control over, namely those for debt service, pensions, energy, paratransit, and employee and retiree health care, continue to increase beyond the rate of inflation," Lhota said.
"We are grappling with long-term measures to reduce these frustrating and difficult non-discretionary expenses, but today, they are the drivers of the need for a fare and toll increase," Lhota said.
The fare and toll proposals will be the subject of a public review process, including public hearings, that will start Oct. 15 and will last through mid-December.
Following a review, the proposals will be subject to modification and will be considered for adoption by the M.T.A. Board at its December 19 meeting. The new fare and toll rates would go into effect on or about March 1, 2013.
"We need to hear from the public. Feedback evaluating the specific alternatives we've put forward is particularly useful, but we value all our customers' input, and we'll consider changes to our proposals based on what we hear and read," Lhota said.