Rally to restore
free MetroCards

Not many parents have an extra $2,300 lying around – the estimated amount it would cost to send two children to school via mass transit if, under the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) “Doomsday budget,” student MetroCards were no longer free.
As of September of this year, students may be required to buy half-price MetroCards, and full-price beginning in 2011.
In protest, State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblymember Michael Miller stood with concerned parents, students and community activists at Richmond Hill High School to call on the MTA and Albany legislators to join them in saving student MetroCards.
“I strongly oppose the MTA’s proposed cuts and funding reductions to the MetroCard student passes that would affect over a half-million schoolchildren,” said Addabbo, who noted that the average median income within his district is about $44,000.
The politicians pointed out that a mother of three commuting students would have to spend $267 a month on student MetroCards. If she earns $400 a week, she would be spending 17 percent of her income to send her children to school.
“My colleagues and I found the money the MTA needs to operate. It is now the MTA’s turn to act responsibly. They need to do their part and stop using our children as leverage,” said Miller.
Addabbo, who urged lawmakers to explore alternatives to this proposed MTA cut, is also going forward with a petition effort so that residents across the district can tell their leaders in Albany and the MTA how important the student MetroCard is to them. An individual can sign the petition at his or her local school.
Addabbo suggested that the MTA reconsider giving Chairman & CEO Jay Walder and the other 790 administrative workers free monthly MetroCards.
“The MTA needs to examine its policy of providing retirees, spouses and family members of Metro North workers and LIRR workers free monthly passes,” he said. “Last year, over 20,000 spouses, dependents and retirees received free Metro North and LIRR passes – this cost the MTA over $100 million dollars.”
“The MTA rescue legislation passed last spring authorizes a forensic audit, and we welcome it,” said MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan. “In the meantime, the MTA is focused on overhauling how we do business to ensure that every dollar we receive is used wisely. We are cutting administrative costs, consolidating functions and renegotiating contracts.”

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