County Executive Day Urges Commuters to Attend Fare Hearing

COUNTY PRESS RELEASE

County Executive Ed Day has implored Rockland commuters to attend today’s public hearing schedule by the MTA. Day said, “I am asking the commuters of Rockland County to once again make their voices heard,” “Join me at the upcoming public hearing to let the MTA know what we think of their proposed fare hikes. I will be requesting the same things I have been advocating for all year, an exemption from any fare increases for all West of Hudson commuters and a 10 percent discount while PTC installation is ongoing.”

The MTA has scheduled a public hearing for today, Thursday, December 13 at 5:30 p.m. in the Adler Community Room, 4th Floor, Palisades Center Mall about a proposed four-percent increase in fares and tolls. Rockland commuters suffer the consequences daily of a broken transit agency in New Jersey Transit, and an even more broken system of contract oversight on the part of MTA and Metro-North.

Over the past two years, Rockland County’s commuters have endured more service disruptions than would ever be allowed to occur on Metro-North’s East of Hudson service. Since 2010, Rockland has lost two trains through service cuts and now this year, two of our four express trains. They have endured chronic cancellations and delays, poorly coordinated temporary busing, late customer notice and extremely limited service schedules; all of which have a severe effect on Rockland commuters.

Pascack Valley line commuters pay essentially the same fare as Hudson Line commuters for the privilege of riding the most unreliable service in the entire Metro-North system. After much advocacy for a fare reduction by local elected officials over the summer, NJ TRANSIT (NJT) announced a ten-percent discount on NJT rail fares for travel in November, December and January in acknowledgement of disrupted service due to ongoing PTC (Positive Train Control) installation.

Unfortunately, this reduction applies ONLY to NJT rail service but does not apply to MNR service, despite canceled trains and inconsistent levels of service. Metro-North contracts with NJ TRANSIT to provide it’s West of Hudson service, and riders on the Pascack Valley and Port Jervis lines have suffered through months of cancellations and delays as NJT attempts to complete its PTC installation.

“We were shocked when Metro-North’s West of Hudson commuters were unceremoniously notified that the ten-percent discount applied only to New Jersey customers, not us,” said County Executive Day. “It is utterly appalling that Metro-North Railroad told NJT to NOT discount any fares in Metro-North territory. The fact that NJT was doing the right thing by their customers, but Metro-North would not do the same, sent the message loud and clear to Rockland County that nothing has changed.”

Since 2005, Rockland County commuters have endured four fare increases from NJT, along with seven increases from Metro-North. Eleven increases in 12 years; more increases than any other commuter in the Tri-State area. This dual-agency fare burden is bad enough without even mentioning that there have been no service improvements, no significant capital investments, and, in fact, only service cuts.

“Rockland County’s commuters deserve more from the MTA and Metro-North. With our $40 million annual value gap it is long past time for our service to be prioritized. I hope you will join me at the hearing,” concluded County Executive Day.