Can Mayor Bloomberg Stop The Fare Hike?

According to an article in this past Thursday’s Daily News, he can. Here is the article courtesy of the New York Daily News as a part of their “Halt The Hike” campaign:

Mayor Bloomberg could halt the hike.

With just three weeks to go before the MTA board votes on fare and toll increases, the balance of power could shift to City Hall from Albany, sources told the Daily News.

The mayor controls four of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board’s 14 votes, but has not said where he stands.

“The mayor seems to be undecided, so it would make sense for the governor and MTA to start courting the mayor and his board members,” a source close to City Hall said.

Three voting board members, Andrew Saul, Mitchell Pally and Norman Seabrook, are against the hike. If joined by Bloomberg’s bloc, fare and toll hikes would be just one vote shy of being derailed.

“It comes down to the mayor,” board member Barry Feinstein said. Just yesterday, mayoral reps told Feinstein they hadn’t yet made a decision. “That means they are still gathering information.”

Several members have not taken a firm stand and appear to be in play. The board vote is scheduled for Dec. 19. “I think the mayor hasn’t been convinced that this needs to be done at this time,” Seabrook said.

Whether the MTA is being as efficient as possible will be a key factor in the mayor’s decision process, the mayor has repeatedly said. Gov. Spitzer and his top transit chief, MTA CEO Elliot Sander, last week announced a modified fare-hike plan. The $2 base subway-bus fare would remain stable through 2009.

About $360 million would be raised over the next two years by higher prices for multiride MetroCards and Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) tickets. Tolls on the MTA’s nine bridges and tunnels would also rise, but numbers have yet to be hashed out.

The MTA will end this year with a surplus greater than $500million and can balance next year’s budget without fare and toll hikes, according to MTA officials and budget plans.

Sander said increases are necessary because the authority expects large deficits in 2009 and subsequent years.

There are 16 voting positions on the board. One seat is vacant, and the members representing Orange, Dutchess and Rockland counties share one vote.

Spitzer has six representatives, but five were chosen or reappointed by former Gov. George Pataki: Saul, Seabrook, Feinstein, Francis Powers and Nancy Shevell, who’s been in the headlines for dating Beatle Paul McCartney.

Shevell, Powers, David Mack, Donald Cecil and Susan Metzger have not taken a stand.

Spitzer installed MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger earlier this year, and he would cast a second tie-breaking vote. The mayor’s representatives are John Banks, a Con Edison vice president; Mark Lebow, partner of a law firm; Jeff Kay, Bloomberg’s director of operations, and Mark Page, the city budget director.

At this point I like many others expect some sort of a fare hike to go through. Seriously I would fully support a fare hike if the MTA fully disclosed their financial books & fully explained with proof why they need a fare hike. If they could do this, get the money they deserve from the government, & still needed cash legitimately, I would support the hike.  We all know that something as to give as all these major projects like the 7 Line Extension, East Side Access, Second Avenue Subway, etc… are not going to get done for free. If anyone can get to the bottom of this, I think Mayor Bloomberg can. Hopefully he will get the job done & have his representatives vote for what is the needed choice.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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He can not since MTA was controlled by state government.

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