MTA Fare Hikes Loom – QNS.com

MTA Fare Hikes Loom

Queens commuters are facing significant fare hikes and service cuts to meet a projected three-year, $3 billion fiscal shortfall, the MTA announced this week.
Commuters could see the reduction of subway service during evenings and weekends, and the possible elimination of overnight service on some Queens bus routes.
Heavily factored into the cash shortage are capital construction projects, as well as a massive subway modernization program. within the past week, President bush has just approved over $2 billion of 9/11 funds for the extension of the "train-to-the-plane" rail link between lower Manhattan and JFK — a project that will require more funds from the fiscally-strapped city.
Added to these programs is the projected takeover of the Queens private bus lines and the replacement of hundreds of their overage buses at an estimate cost of $350,000 per vehicle.
The following changes could come by January 1, 2005:
30-day, unlimited ride, MetroCard fees would be hiked from $70 to $75.
Seven-day MetroCards would be hiked from $24 to $27.
EZ-Pass fees will rise on all the boroughs toll bridges and tunnels.
Possible cutbacks in nighttime train and bus service, as well as toll booth closings.
Increase of express bus fares from $4 to $6 per trip.
For eastern Queens users of the LIRR, a $5 hike.
The only constant fare rate would be the retention of the $2 and $10 MetroCard fees.
City Council Transportation Chairman John Liu called the projected fare raises "appalling."
"The net effect of all these proposals is a shift of resources from city residents to suburban commuters, as well as a dilution of services for Queens residents," Liu said.
Significantly, there was no discussion concerning the MTAs proposed takeover of the four private bus lines that service Queens 290,000 commuters, as well as the projected cutbacks of duplicating bus line services.
Hardest hit by the MTA proposals would be the northeastern Queens commuters who rely on buses to complete their work trips along 46 bus routes.
Civic activists have already pointed out that Community Board 7 (Flushing), CB 8 (Jamaica Estates), and CB 11 (Bayside) have nearly the same amount of aggregate street miles as the borough of Manhattan, but have only one subway station (Main Street) to handle commuter traffic from 23 bus lines.
Pointing out that mass transit fares had already shot up a record one-third last year, Queens Borough President Helen marshall flatly warned against further increases and service rollbacks: "The people of Queens have no mass transit options."
All proposed fare hikes and service cuts will require hearings before they are approved.

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