By Kathy Kahn
With ridership down nearly 75 percent since Covid-19 decimated public transportation in New York City and the counties surrounding it, the Metropolitan Transit Authority is asking for a Federal bailout to balance its 2021 budget.
Currently under consideration is the elimination of the West-of-Hudson River service. The move to cut W-O-H service may save the MTA more than $26 million but does nothing to help the riders who depend on it to get to and from work in Rockland. County Executive Ed Day is decrying the proposal.
MTA Chair Patrick Foye, calling the decline in ridership the worst financial crisis in the Authority’s history, is asking Washington for $12 billion to balance its projected $17 billion budget. Without the bailout, Foye predicts more than 9,400 layoffs by mid-2021.
The MTA will be hosting a series of eight virtual public hearings on its proposed increase to fares and to tolls on the seven bridges and two tunnels that connect its ridership to the five boroughs. Under a proposed option, revenue yields could increase by up to four percent for fares and up to eight percent for tolls. For Rocklanders, the move adds insult to injury, since most riders already feel short-changed by the service on the West of Hudson line.
For those who rely on the mid-Hudson bridges to get to work, these are not affected by the proposed toll hike—yet. The Bridge Authority, which oversees the Bear Mountain, Newburgh-Beacon, Mid-Hudson, Rhinecliff and Rip Van Winkle bridges, had its five-member board replaced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the summer, a move regarded as a backdoor effort to dissolve the Bridge Authority and merge it into the cash-strapped Thruway Authority.
Those who wish to speak on the MTA’s proposed fare and toll hikes can sign up for all virtual meetings at www.new.mta.info/2020hearings or by calling the MTA Public Hearing Hotline at 646-252-6777. Registration began for the hearings on Monday, Nov. 23. Registration closes at 5:00PM the day before each hearing. The MTA Board will also accept written comments on the proposed fare and toll hikes on its website.
2020 Virtual Public Hearing Dates:
Tuesday, December 1- 5:30PM
Thursday, December 3-10:00AM
Monday, December 7- 5:30PM
Wednesday, December 9-5:30PM
Monday, December 14, 5:30PM
Monday, December 21, 10:00AM
2020 Virtual Satellite Hearing Dates:
Wednesday, December 2- 5:30-8:30PM
Tuesday, December 8-10:00AM-1:00PM
The MUTA is expected to vote on fare increases in January and the toll increased in February, 2021.