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MTA board member wants to postpone vote to raise fares, tolls

MTA board member Mitchell Pally is seen in

MTA board member Mitchell Pally is seen in 2017. Credit: Charles Eckert

Long Island’s lone representative on the MTA Board is urging the agency to postpone a planned vote Thursday on its latest fare and toll increase, in part so that it could have time to consider alternatives.

Mitchell Pally, of Suffolk County, called Wednesday on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to put off a vote on a proposal to raise fares and tolls by about 4 percent, and give the board time to consider “other options, which have been discussed over the last week.”

Under the current plan, the maximum increase on weekly and monthly LIRR tickets would be 3.85 percent, with dollar increases capped at $15 for monthly tickets and $5.75 on weekly tickets. Monthly unlimited ride MetroCards could climb to $127, from the current $121.

Without disclosing details of any potential alternative fare plans, Pally noted that board members have discussed increasing efforts to recover revenue lost to people who evade fares — potentially alleviating the burden on riders who do pay.

Pally noted that putting the vote off until a state budget is approved also would give the MTA more clarity on its financial needs. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed a congestion pricing plan that he said could generate up to $15 billion in new annual revenue for the MTA.

“I’m not sure what’s going to happen tomorrow. There are a lot of different and competing variables,” Pally said Wednesday.

In a statement, MTA spokesman Shams Tarek said the board will have a “robust discussion” on Thursday “and decide on the best course of action in the context of the MTA's dire financial position, which requires fare and toll increases, as well as new, sustainable, adequate sources of funding in order to balance the budget while avoiding painful service cuts.”

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