Should We Be Surprised?

I know I’m not when New York Daily News transit reporter Pete Donohue broke the news that three MTA board members skipped every public hearing on proposed fare and toll hikes. Here is the entire article courtesy of the New York Daily News:

Three MTA board members are total truants; they skipped every public hearing on proposed fare and toll hikes.

Andrew Saul, Donald Cecil and Susan Metzger failed to attend any of eight public hearings the Metropolitan Transportation Authority held during the past 10 days.

Some board members attended only one hearing, including Nancy Shevell, who didn’t show up at sessions held after her relationship with Paul McCartney became public.

Millions of daily subway, bus and commuter train riders will pay more if the increases are approved by the board next month. Drivers using MTA bridges and tunnels also would be affected.

“Membership on the MTA board is a privilege, not a right, with awesome responsibilities,” fumed state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Queens). “Members who can’t drag themselves to even one fare hike hearing to face the riding public not only shouldn’t be allowed to vote for a fare hike, they shouldn’t be on the board at all.”

Metzger, of Orange County, Wednesday vowed to review hearing transcripts.

She was out of the country last week on a vacation she and her husband starting planning more than a year ago, she said. Saul and Cecil didn’t return messages.

Saul, the CEO of a women’s apparel company, is a board vice chairman and head of the finance committee who regularly attends monthly meetings at MTA headquarters.

Saul also is a candidate in next fall’s Republican primary in the 19th Congressional District. It encompasses Putnam County and parts of Dutchess, Orange, Rockland and Westchester counties.

More than 100 state legislators have urged the MTA to delay to mid-April the hikes, set to take effect in February.

They hope to get Gov. Spitzer and their colleagues to give more funds to the MTA so riders are spared.

Before the hearings, Saul told the Daily News he would oppose a delay because Albany couldn’t be counted on to provide additional funds.

Wednesday, he released a statement indicating he might have a change of heart.

“I have never said that I was in favor of an MTA fare increase at this time,” he said, adding he would at the very least “review all viable options that allow the MTA to continue improving and providing services to its riders in a fiscally responsible manner.”

Cecil is chairman of the Westchester County Board of Transportation.

A founding partner of a large investment management company, he has been active in several charities and established a scholarship fund for low-income Westchester County students.

Metzger formerly owned an engineering company, heads the Orange County Planning Board and has been active in environmental issues.

I agree 100% with Queens Democratic State Assemblyman Rory Lancman, maybe these three should not be on the board. I will cut a tad bit of slack if the vacation was legitimate. One can’t just reschedule planned vacations like that on a whim. However the other two seem to have absolutely NO excuse for missing all of the hearings. I could see maybe one or two as things happen but every single one!

The lack of attention from these individuals on such hearings just underscores why the MTA is not liked by many especially the majority of the riding public. How can they not expect to think that the bigwigs at the MTA have no idea how to relate to the working class who depends on the system day in & day out.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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