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Letters: How to pay for the MTA, LIRR?

The self service ticket machines at the LIRR

The self service ticket machines at the LIRR at Penn Station. ( October 15, 2012) Credit: Linda Rosier Linda Rosier

With all of the Long Island Rail Road's documented operating inefficiencies, how can the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board have the audacity to take the easy road and not address the root cause of its problems and raise ticket prices once again ["LIRR riders face a fare hike," News, Oct. 16]?

If the LIRR operated like a real business, it would streamline its operations, cut costs and not hit commuters with an unjustifiable rate increase.

During the past several months, Newsday has written about all the money wasted, including for platform alterations and the replacement of escalators that were poorly maintained. More recently, it reported on LIRR workers arriving late to work and leaving early.

It is time for our elected officials to put politics and union endorsements aside and demand that the MTA board deliver a budget that will reduce fares rather than raise them. If the MTA and the LIRR cannot do this, then the state should conduct an independent operating audit with binding recommendations, or seek an independent entity that will run the LIRR efficiently.

Bob Lorelli, Speonk

Newsday is right to point out that fare hikes would burden commuters ["MTA can't keep soaking commuters," Editorial, Oct. 18]. But suggesting that the way out of the MTA's financial distress is "shared sacrifices" from management, labor and riders allows New York State legislators to skirt their responsibility to adequately fund the system.

Since 2009, $260 million of dedicated transit funds have been used by the state for non-transit uses. As a result of these diversions, systemwide service cuts went into effect in 2010. On top of that, legislators continually challenge the funding sources that keep our system in shape.

For years, there have been countless calls for improved MTA efficiencies. And, finally, the agency has made some major changes. Over the past several years, the MTA has cut more than $700 million from its annual operating budget. Accusations about a bloated MTA bureaucracy just don't stick anymore. Lawmakers must recognize the MTA's progress and the financial pressures caused by their legislative actions.

Veronica Vanterpool, Manhattan

Editor's note: The writer is the executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, an advocate for reducing dependency on cars.