MTA chairman Jay Walder. (September 2010)

MTA chairman Jay Walder. (September 2010) Credit: Sally Morrow

Business people who find themselves in a fighting mood Monday morning can show up at a Long Island Association breakfast, where they will get a chance to chew on a familiar target these days -- Jay Walder, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Walder is expected to be peppered with questions about the highly unpopular MTA commuter tax, the decline in service on the Long Island Railroad, the increase in fares, and the rise in tolls at bridges and tunnels.

Another business group, Action Long Island, last week released a list of 10 "suggestions" its members drew up for improving MTA operations. Among them was a plea to repeal the commuter tax. Late last week, Mitch Pally of Setauket, Long Island's representative to the MTA's board, appeared before Action Long Island at a meeting in Melville.

Pally offered a concession: "The MTA does some things very well," he said. "It does some things very poorly." Either way, Pally said, "the real focus is one word: subsidy. How much of the cost should the rider pay?" That question remained unanswered.

But Pally did say he does not support the commuter tax. "I think it's unfair," he said. "I would much prefer congestion pricing" to the commuter tax. The MTA, Pally said, is unlikely to lobby the legislature to do away with the tax. "That is a position the legislature will decide," he said. "All we do is tell the legislature 'This is our financial situation.' "

Action Long Island chairman Sheldon Sackstein said he and members of his organization will be on hand at the LIA event at 8 a.m. Monday at Molloy College Suffolk Center at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale.

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