MTA fare hike hearings set to begin next week

A southbound train pulls into the New Rochelle A southbound train pulls into the New Rochelle Metro-North station. (March 27, 2012) Photo Credit: Angela Gaul

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The MTA will press ahead with a series of public hearings on its proposal to hike fares on its commuter rails, buses and subway trains, the agency said Tuesday.

Superstorm Sandy will have no impact on the MTA's plans to hold Hudson Valley-based hearings in Poughkeepsie on Nov. 13, Newburgh on Nov. 14 and Yonkers on Nov. 15, agency spokesman Aaron Donovan said.

Metro-North Railroad riders could face fare increases as steep as 9.3 percent; and subway and bus fares could go from the current $2.25 to $2.50, as the agency struggles to plug a $450 million hole in next year's $12.6 billion budget.

The last MTA fare increase was a 7.5 percent hike in the cost of monthly subway MetroCards, from $89 to $104. The last fare increase on the Metro-North railroad was a 5.5 percent hike in 2005.

The Poughkeepsie hearing actually will be a special videoconferencing session, Donovan said. Between 4 and 8 p.m., those wishing to weigh in on the proposed hikes can show up at the city's downtown train station, where MTA representatives will assist them in preparing a video of up to three minutes. The videos and their transcripts will be reviewed by the MTA board before it votes on Dec. 19 whether to boost fares.

The Newburgh and Yonkers sessions will follow the traditional hearing format, Donovan said. Those wishing to speak can register on-site from 4 to 8 p.m. The hearings will begin at 5 p.m. and continue until the last registered speaker has addressed the MTA board. Speakers are limited to three minutes, Donovan said.

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The Newburgh hearing will be held in the Vanderbilt/Astor Rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn Newburgh/Stewart Airport, 15 Crossroads Ct.

The Yonkers hearing will take place at the Yonkers Public Library's Riverfront Auditorium at One Larkin Center, one block north of the city's Metro-North station.

In addition, Hudson Valley residents can attend another hearing on Nov. 13 in Manhattan, Donovan said. That one will follow the same time schedule and format as the Newburgh and Yonkers hearings: 4-8 p.m. to register to speak, with the hearing beginning at 5 p.m. It will be held at Mason Hall on the campus of Baruch College, 17 Lexington Ave. at 23rd Street.

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MTA chairman Joseph Lhota has said the fare increases are necessary to offset rising costs such as debt service, energy, pensions and health care.

For more information on the hearings, call the MTA information line at 511 or call 1-718-521-3333.

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