Westchester County Executive Andy Spano today urged the MTA not to go ahead with planned fare hikes in light of a $928 million budget surplus announced earlier this week.
“Obviously the MTA is in a lot better financial shape than at the start of the year when it said it would need fare hikes to offset future deficits,’’ said Spano. “More than 75,000 people in Westchester ride Metro North trains each day, and one of the first priorities other than safety should be an affordable fare.’’
Spano said that he would send a letter to Westchester’s representative on the board as well as other members to urge them to support the creation of a fund that could be used to offset future fare increases.
On Monday, State Comptroller Alan Hevesi released a report saying that the MTA would have a $928 million surplus - $95 million more than the authority had predicted. Hevesi also urged the MTA not to use extra funds to build a platform over the Long Island Rail Road yards on the Westside of Manhattan and instead use them for purposes that more directly benefited riders including canceling planned fare hikes for 2007 and 2009.
In his letter to MTA board members Spano said, “As you know, energy costs are soaring, generating increased demand for commuter transit service and driving up the cost of providing that service. We are entering a period when it will be essential to have reserves available to meet those demands to encourage new ridership, and to keep fares affordable for riders. I urge you to think about using this windfall wisely.’’