COUNTY EXECUTIVE DAY TO MTA: NO FARE INCREASES FOR ROCKLAND COMMUTERS

NEW CITY, NY — County Executive Ed Day is calling on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to exempt Rockland commuters from proposed fare increases, given the inequity that exists between what the County pays to the transit agency and the limited service local residents get in return. Day delivered his remarks during the MTA’s scheduled Public Hearing held Monday at the Palisades Center in West Nyack.

“Based on the severe inequity Rockland has endured for more than 25 years, I must call upon MTA to waive the proposed fare increases for Rockland County’s West of Hudson rail and ferry commuters, and for Rockland residents who are Metro-North/TZx UniTicket holders.”

During his remarks, Day referred to a meeting held earlier in the day with MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast and Metro-North President Joe Giulietti, stating “…I am encouraged to have their commitment to work together with Rockland County on this issue [improving Rockland County’s rail service], and on ways to reduce our long-standing value gap.”

On November 17, the MTA unveiled proposals to increase fares and tolls by an average of 4 percent over the next two years.

The full text of County Executive Day’s statement follows below:

County Executive Ed Day’s Statement – MTA Proposed Fare Increases

December 8, 2014

“On behalf of Rockland County commuters and taxpayers, I want to first acknowledge that MTA was responsive to the County’s request that our residents be given the courtesy of a public hearing location in Rockland. Thank you for finding your way back to Rockland.

I am here tonight to voice my extreme displeasure with MTA’s decision to increase fares for Rockland County commuters, despite the severe, annual, multi-million dollar value gap that Rockland County has endured for more than 25 years.

I and my predecessor have repeatedly asked that Rockland County be exempt from fare increases, given the inequity that exists between what we pay to MTA and what we receive in return.

MTA’s own findings and our own most recent independent analysis clearly show that Rockland County pays approximately $40 million more to the MTA each year than it receives back in the form of service and funding.

This “gap” between what we pay and what we receive has nearly doubled since 1998. ($22M)

Recent MTA service improvements have done little to reduce Rockland’s value gap. The bulk of Rockland’s rail service is provided by NJ Transit, and dictated by the restrictive and outdated operating agreement between that agency and Metro-North.

Rockland County is plagued by its orphan status as a New York community on the West side of theHudson River. Now is the time that we MUST finally start working together with MTA, Metro-North, NYS DOT and NJ Transit to change that dysfunctional relationship, which has thwarted West of Hudson rail improvements in Rockland County for far too long.

This afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting with Chairman Prendergast, along with Metro-North President Joe Giulietti, and I am encouraged to have their commitment to work together with Rockland County on this issue, and on ways to reduce our long-standing value gap. Gentlemen: thank you for the time you set aside today to visit with me and my staff.

That having been said, and based on the severe inequity Rockland has endured for more than 25 years, I must still call upon MTA to waive the proposed fare increases for Rockland County’s West of Hudson rail and ferry commuters, and for Rockland residents who are Metro-North/TZx UniTicket holders.

You have the ability and the means to remove these increases from your proposal, and you must do so before the proposal is placed before your Board for a vote.

This action must include eliminating proposed increases to fares from Metro-North’s rail stations in Spring Valley, Nanuet,Pearl Riverand Sloatsburg, the proposed increase for the Haverstraw-Ossining ferry, and the proposed increase to the rail portion of the Metro-North/TZx UniTicket.

Holding down the fare for the TZx UniTicket is especially vital now, during construction of the new bridge, to encourage transit use and address growing congestion in the I-287 corridor.

In fact, we spoke at our meeting today about how MTA should provide funding to expand the TZx service during construction, and to also operate the TZx on Sundays.

Times are tough, and I’m the first to agree that everyone needs to pay their fair share. The problem remains that Rockland County’s share is completely unfair, when all but one of the other MTA counties, including each of the five boroughs, benefit from value surpluses, while we have been overcharged more than $600 million over the past 25 years.

Thank you in advance for removing fare increases for Rockland County commuters from your proposal.”