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MTA Holds First Public Hearing On Proposed Fare Hikes

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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority held its first in a series of hearings Wednesday night to address proposed fare hikes and service cuts. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report from Midtown.

It was the public's chance to sound off on fare hikes and service cuts, and sound off they did. From the protesters outside to an estimated 400 people who crowded into the hearing room Wednesday night, some of them forced to wait in line for 40 minutes with riders of all ages giving the MTA a piece of their mind.

"I'm a little sad that they're cutting those trains. How will the M Train people get to work? Please don't cut the W, the M, and Z. I like that they're all new," said one subway rider.

The MTA said without help from Albany, it will have to raise the base fare as high as $3 and a monthly MetroCard as high as $103. But it's proposed service cuts like the elimination of the M8 bus, that drew the fiercest opposition. In particular, plans to more than double the fare for disabled riders using the MTA's Access-A-Ride service.

"Access-A-Ride users should not have to choose between going to work and having food in the house; between taking a ride to the doctor or paying for medicine. A $10 round trip while the rest of us are paying far less is not only unfair; it is reprehensible," said City Comptroller Bill Thompson.

Board members got a cool reception. They were introduced to boos and hisses and chairman Dale Hemmerdinger was practically shouted down when he tried to address the crowd.

"Unfortunately, we have a deficit between operating and capital of over $2 billion. So, we need the money from somewhere. We can't borrow any more. You know, we listened to you. It would be very nice if you gave us the courtesy to listen to us," said Hemmerdinger.

"I think the public is obviously extremely upset with the proposed service cuts, with the fare increases. And so I don't think we think this is unfair, we just hope that Albany listens and acts to provide the funding that we need," said MTA Executive Director & CEO Elliot "Lee" Sander.

To prevent a massive fare hike, the state legislature would have to take action by March 25. That's when the MTA board takes a final vote on the increases, which would then go into effect in June.

MTA Fare Hike Hearings

Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel
Phoenix Ballroom, 135-20 39th Avenue, Flushing, Queens

Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The Garden City Hotel, The Grand Ballroom
45 Seventh Street, Garden City

Monday, January 26, 2009
College of Staten Island
CSI Center for the Arts, Springer Concert Hall
2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island

Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Westchester County Center
Rooms A - C, 198 Central Avenue, White Plains

Wednesday, January 28, 2009
NY Marriott at the Bklyn Bridge
333 Adams Street, Brooklyn

Monday, February 2, 2009
Palisades Center, Raso Community Room
1000 Palisades Center Drive, West Nyack

Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Lehman College, CUNY, Lovinger Theatre
250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx

*Registration to speak is open from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the dates of the hearings. Oral testimony is limited to three minutes per speaker.

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