MTA Hearing In Farmingdale Has Low Attendance

I guess Long Islanders missed the memo or maybe Long Island Railroad Commuter Council member Maureen Michaels was right when she said “Maybe they’re delayed by the trains” in reference to the abysmal turnout at yesterday’s MTA hearing in Farmingdale on the proposed fare hike. According to the Newsday, approximately only 40 Long Island residents were present for the hearing which featured less than a dozen speakers from the riding public. Here is the entire article about the hearing courtesy of Newsday:

While hearings on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s proposed fare increases have drawn hundreds in the city, some going until late in the evening, the only hearing scheduled on Long Island stood in stark contrast Wednesday night, with about 40 attendants and fewer than a dozen speakers.

After a brief introduction at Farmingdale State College, no speakers came to the microphone when MTA Deputy Executive Director Chris Boylan read off the first few names of residents who had signed up to give comments prior to the event.

“Maybe they’re delayed by the trains,” quipped Maureen Michaels, a member of the Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council.

Forty-five minutes into the hearing, Boylan took a 15-minute break to see whether any additional speakers arrived.

After the break, he read four more names. None had arrived. And they recessed again. But Boylan, who has attended other such hearings on Long Island throughout the years, said he was not surprised by the lesser turnout, given the greater population density in the city.

Still, a smaller crowd did not arrive with any less vitriol over the proposed fare hikes.

“I think this rate increase is outrageous,” said Kent Reiter, 62, of Garden City. Noting the proposed third track project, which officials say would increase capacity on the LIRR’s main line, he added: “You’ll be glad to build a third track through my backyard at a terrible expense to everyone … The fare hike is just another sign of a system gone wrong.”

Paul Askedall, 47, of Farmingdale, arrived in a tuxedo, making the point that fares will soon only be affordable to the upper class: “This is the only type of clothes you want people to wear … I and my parents have trouble making ends meet.”

But assuming a certain air of inevitability to the increase, he added: “You’re all going to do what you want. This is a charade.”

None of the MTA board members in attendance nor LIRR President Helena Williams responded to any of the comments.

The proposed increases call for raising Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North fares by an average of 6.5 percent. In the city, the $2 base subway and bus fare would rise by a quarter.

“The cost of living on Long Island is high; you’re going to make it higher,” said State Sen. Carl Marcellino.

State Assemb. David McDonough urged the MTA to delay its expected December vote on a fare hike until April, when the legislature votes on a state budget, in hopes that they can allocate enough money to offset the need for an increase.

MTA chairman Elliot Sander has said the agency is already asking the state for $1.5 billion during the next two years to finance operations and various projects. Expecting Albany to produce an additional $300 million a year to stave off an increase is not realistic, he said.

I can’t say that I am surprised by the lack of turnout for the Long Island hearing. I assumed in advance that the hearings held in the suburbs would have the least amount of turnout. I feel this reflects on the attitude of who can & can’t afford the big blow this fare hike will inflict on drivers & riders alike.

I applaud Mr. Askedall for the creative way he chose to make his statement. Mr. Askedall you get my kudos of the week for sure. Hmm, maybe I’m on to something, the Transit Blogger “Kudos Of The Week” award! I like it!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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