NY.- Public transport advocates voiced their vigorous protest to the Governor Andrew Cuomo this Sunday and warned that they oppose the increase in the subway rate and tolls on the city’s bridges, which “would be catastrophic for aggrieved public transport users and workers excluded from federal unemployment benefits due to the recession of the coronavirus pandemic ”.
The broad coalition of organizations is targeting Cuomo, who controls the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), and has proposed a 4% rate hike that would fall overwhelmingly on essential workers and unemployed New Yorkers, they said.
No upward at the expense of essential workers
Passengers and workers rejected the fare hike and demanded that Governor Cuomo find progressive revenue streams to fund public transportation rather than balance his budget at the expense of essential workers and New Yorkers with no other transportation options.
“Governor Cuomo must stop the regressive increase in transit fees for essential workers and millions of low-income New Yorkers who have no other way to get around,” said the Executive Director of Riders Alliance, Betsy Plum.
The MTA’s goal is to raise $ 153 million by 2021, that organization said.
Plum stressed that the Governor needs to find progressive funding sources for public transportation, “instead of hitting the pockets of passengers. And under no circumstances should the governor raise transportation funds to pay for his other priorities. “
The MTA is about to approve increases in rates and tolls, even as a $ 4 billion bailout is expected from Washington, defenders protesting outside the Governor’s office in Manhattan said.
“This is not the time to raise rates and tolls. We are strongly opposed to paying more ”, ratified the activists who have been demanding that the operation of the subway be restored at night, as well as the frequencies of the buses.
“The reduction in night service means that thousands of New Yorkers cannot get to their jobs because they do not have transportation,” he demanded. Alberto Solis of New York Communities for Change.
Cuomo is the one who decides the increase
The protest sought to make it clear that they oppose a revision of fare and ticket policies, a process that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has carried out through a series of virtual public hearings due to the health crisis.
The Riders Alliance insisted that Cuomo dominates the state budget process that determines how and how much New York spends on public transportation.
Ultimately, the governor is the one who will decide whether to raise MTA rates and, rally attendees argued, “New Yorkers should hold him accountable for that decision.”
Speakers argued that the MTA’s proposed rate hike is particularly counterproductive given the health crisis the city is currently experiencing. For example, they say, many white-collar employees work from home indefinitely and do not have to pay the fee to get to their jobs. A fare hike would now overwhelmingly fall on New York’s essential workers, 38%, some 840,000 passengers, who depend on public transportation.
Essential workers are often underpaid, with 8% living at or below the poverty line and 24% at double or below the poverty line, the activists added.
“My family relies on public transportation for all of our weekly appointments, groceries, medicine, school and work,” said worker Pedro Valdez-Rivera, who participated in the protest.
Valdez-Rivera added that for families like hers who don’t have “money to pay for Uber,” a fare increase would be devastating and that every penny counts these days.
“I want to tell Governor Andrew Cuomo: This is the worst time to increase transportation rates,” Valdez-Rivera said.
Transport hike is a tax
Protesters claimed the rate hike would amount to a regressive state tax. They explained that although the MTA is technically “out of budget,” its finances are intertwined with the state budget.
In a statement issued by the Riders Alliance it was detailed that, at this time, the state is withholding $ 600 million from the MTA in dedicated transit taxes that the state normally collects and then forwards to the MTA.
The MTA is asking for $ 12 billion in federal emergency funding, which according to Reinvent albany they include $ 600 million to offset the loss of “state subsidies.”
If the governor raises fares while withholding tax money from the MTA, the fare increase is not only regressive on its own, it is actually a state tax on public transportation users to support overall state operations. .
For its part, the MTA said in a statement that it can delay drastic layoffs and cuts in services with funds that it will likely receive from Washington, but the process to increase rates and tolls next year is already underway.
Although the exact amounts have not been finalized, the proposals include increasing the base fare for a subway ride to $ 3, eliminating the unlimited one-week MetroCards, cutting services and laying off thousands of employees, are some of the proposals that they have been discussed in the hearings. Drivers would also see toll increases on bridges and tunnels, possibly with different amounts depending on the time of day.
The ultimate audience
The last hearing to define the increase in public transport will take place virtually this Monday from 10 a.m. To know the process you can visit the website: new.mta.info/2020hearings.
The range of MTA proposals
- Increases from 2% to 4% in all types of tickets.
- The basic passage of the subway would go up from $ 2.75 to $ 3 dollars and the price of the tickets for an individual trip (single ride) to $ 4.
- Put the 7% bonus back into effect on MetroCards, but at the same time eliminate the unlimited 7 and 30-day cards, which offer discounts to commuters, by giving them additional trips.
- If the basic rate does not go up and remains at $ 2.75, then the weekly MetroCard would be increased from the current $ 33 to $ 36 and the monthly would go from $ 127 to $ 139.
- 8% increase in tolls for bridges and tunnels.