MTA board postpones fare hike vote to consider alternatives

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NJ Burkett reports the latest on the postponed MTA board fare vote.

The MTA board postponed a planned vote Thursday on potential fare hikes, delaying the decision at least one month while the agency considers a variety of alternatives.

The eventual results will not only affect the commuters who rely on mass transit, but the MTA itself.

The board voted to postpone fare vote until February. The vote was unanimous with one abstention, and there were no "no" votes.

The vote to keep the fare at $2.75 or increase it to $3 could make the difference of hundreds of millions of dollars for the transit agency, which has come under scrutiny from Governor Andrew Cuomo in recent weeks.

"The subway, the train, they take too long, shouldn't even raise it," one commuter said.

Riders boarded their buses and trains after a long day at work, worried that their commute will cost them more and knowing they really can't afford it.

"I can't even afford $2.75 now, much less $3," another commuter said.

The single-ride increase to $3 is just one option the MTA board is considering in the face of a billion dollar deficit, along with a 4 percent increase for Long Island Rail Road and Metro North fares.

"It is obviously of great concern," board member Mitch Pally said. "We cannot just continue to do this every other year."

Cuomo is pressuring board members to hold the line on fares. Instead, multi-ride discounts could be eliminated.

Sources say another proposal seeks to avoid increases on monthly commuter rail fares by raising one-way fares.

Fare evasion costs the MTA half a million dollars every day, and several board members say a sweeping crackdown could help preserve the fares for the people who actually pay them.

The governor insists the indecision is proof that the MTA is in disarray.

"Just throwing more money into the tracks is not going to make a difference without management reform," Cuomo said on WNYC Radio.

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