I don’t know if I should consider this a surprise or a PR move to cover one owns ass but MTA Vice Chairman Andrew Saul has publicly announced his opposition to the proposed fare hike. As I am sure you recall, Mr. Saul was one of the 3 board members who missed every single public hearing on the proposed fare hikes. Here is a complete article on Mr. Saul’s views courtesy of New York Daily News transit reporter Pete Donohue:
The Halt the Hike campaign got a big boost Friday when a key MTA board member changed course and came out against fare increases.
“I am against this fare hike proposal,” board Vice Chairman Andrew Saul declared. “A fare increase is always a hardship and the last option I consider to cover budget shortfalls.”
Instead of seeking higher fares from millions of daily subway, bus and commuter train riders, Saul – who also heads the board’s finance committee – said he would continue to pursue savings within the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
He also pledged support to lawmakers seeking more mass transit funding from Gov. Spitzer and the state Legislature. Spitzer unveils his first budget and the Legislature reconvenes in January.
State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester) welcomed Saul on board the campaign to keep fares and tolls stable.
“The momentum is shifting, there’s no question about that,” Brodsky said.
Saul is the third MTA board member to voice opposition to increases that were proposed earlier this year by Spitzer’s transit chief, MTA CEO Elliot Sander, and Sander’s top deputies.
The board has 16 voting members, including three suburban representatives who share one vote. Mayor Bloomberg has four reps that traditionally vote as a bloc.
Bloomberg hasn’t embraced the proposal but hasn’t rejected it either. The board will vote on a 2008 budget next month.
Brodsky and approximately 100 state legislators have urged the MTA to at least delay possible implementation to April from February, providing more time for them to seek more funds in Albany.
If they succeed, riders could be spared the third round of increases since 2003.
Director of a nationwide chain of clothing stores, Saul is one of several board members appointed by former Gov. George Pataki. The Republican also has launched a campaign for a Democrat-held congressional seat.
Though Saul recently told the Daily News he wouldn’t support delaying the fare hike, he insisted yesterday he never intended to vote for the hike.
“Although the state Legislature has historically been unable to come up with the funding we needed to avoid fare increases, I am hopeful that this time they will be successful,” he said.
The MTA has a large surplus but expects huge deficits in 2009.
While it is nice to hear one of the higher ranking officials oppose the fare hike, I do question the sincerity behind his position. The timing of the announcement raises eyebrows considering the criticism he & the other 2 board members received from all levels of the media including such blogs as this one. This would not be the first or last time I will question someone’s true motive but can you blame me, this is the MTA we are talking about. The agency has perfected the art of lying to people right in their face without blinking an eye. If Mr. Saul is honestly against the proposed fare hike, then these last few weeks until the vote shall prove to be even more interesting if that is even possible!
xoxo Transit Blogger