MTA customers just want reliable service and easy payment options,...

MTA customers just want reliable service and easy payment options, which they continues to enjoy, an MTA official writes. Credit: Linda Rosier

Taking sides with the MTA and LIRR

The article on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s contactless payment choice for the Long Island Rail Road misses a key point: LIRR riders told us what they wanted, and we listened [“OMNY rollout for LIRR delayed, scaled down,” News, May 21].

They love the TrainTime app that provides train status, timetables, and car-by-car seating availability in addition to easy in-app ticketing. A 4.9 rating (out of 5) from 141,700 reviews speaks to its popularity, so why would we take that away from our customers because a plan written five years ago — before TrainTime took off — called for customers to use something else? The answer is that no transportation agency that cares about customer satisfaction would make such a misguided, unforced error.

LIRR riders currently can use their devices and bank cards to pay for rides on commuter rail, subways and buses. Under this improved plan, we’ll be able to offer integrated fare products with a single checkout.

The reality is that customers don’t care which tech vendors we use for fare payment. They just want reliable service and easy payment options, which they will continue to enjoy, now without interruption.

— Jessie Lazarus, Brooklyn

The writer is MTA senior director of commercial initiatives.

MTA chairman Janno Lieber has a “4,000-page four-year study” to determine the impact of congestion pricing [“Congestion pricing court fight,” News, May 18]. If the MTA is confident in these studies, it should have the confidence to conduct an independent retrospective study after five years to evaluate the real-life effects on the city and surrounding communities, as well as effects on the transit-riding public.

I propose a “Rule of Fives”:

Freeze transit fares for five years with no more than one fare increase every five years thereafter.

Do not increase fares by more than 5%.

Decrease congestion zone pricing by 25% after five years, averaging 5% a year, with no congestion increase in surrounding communities.

Do not increase MTA management salaries for five years.

If these metrics are not met, the program should be deemed a failure and terminated. If it is unsuccessful, perhaps management is fired. Let Lieber put his money where his mouth is.

— Leonard Cohen, Wantagh

Newsday has exposed much MTA ineptitude, including unreasonable overtime in the millions of dollars. The MTA acknowledges thousands of cars have altered license plates and evaded tolls with losses in the millions. The MTA also has millions in losses from “fare beaters” on the subways and trains.

The MTA has had an increase in subway crime, and I know of several former subway commuters who no longer take the subway. The MTA also has had debt in the billions.

So, the MTA now expects city drivers to pay congestion pricing tolls. These current charges likely will last a short time because the MTA history is to usually raise fees every other year or sooner. The MTA needs to limit these massive losses before it adds new tolls.

— William Pastarnack, Glen Cove

Many believe the LIRR is run by its unions, so do we really expect the unions to kill the goose that lays the golden egg? Overtime and abusive union work rules have been a problem for years, and what has been done about it? Employees who committed fraud with overtime and fraudulent disability retirement claims had relatively little punishment.

The LIRR keeps allowing abusive costs to continue while crying that it needs money. So, now we essentially get an LIRR “tax” in higher ticket prices and, next, congestion pricing.

These employees have some of the best benefits available today, and they’re costly, while private companies are forced to reduce benefits to stay afloat.

Is there no end in sight to these consumer increases?

— Stephen Rach, West Sayville

Comma as you are, but do write it right

Kudos to Michael Dobie for his ode to the Oxford comma because, as he wrote, “The point is that preciseness and clarity matter” [“Ode to a comma, restorer of order,” Opinion, May 19].

As someone who has proofread educational and test-prep manuscripts where the series comma is the rule, I was heartened to read of its necessity (although many newspapers do not use it). The English language is beautiful, and I believe it deserves to be written and spoken with care. When done well, it has a rhythm that gives the reader or listener a gift, like music that is clear, crisp, and lovely.

— Susan Scalone, Shoreham

Michael Dobie praises the lowly comma as a game changer for written communication. I agree. For 33 years, I taught my students in English class in the East Meadow school district that incorrect comma usage, for example, could destroy the logic of their writing purpose and thereby demolish its power.

Correct grammar was not the crux of my course: Critical thinking, reading for purpose and the author’s theme — not for details alone — and the students’ powerful self-expression were crucial.

I, however, do not share Dobie’s concluding sentiment: “If only we had such a comma for life.” “Life” requires honest debate and no absolute answers.

— Hank Cierski, Port Jefferson Station

Holy comma, Batman! After drafting financial reports and disclosures, both public and private, for over 30 years, I learned that I have been doing so incorrectly without the use of the Oxford comma. What else have I missed? The Cambridge semicolon?

— Tom Carey, Massapequa

Freeze school taxes for seniors at age 70

Like many other seniors with no children in the school system, I generally oppose any tax increases above the budget cap [“Support for LI schools,” News, May 23]. My fellow residents with school-age children generally are in favor of these increases.

I offer the following: Freeze the school taxes of seniors at age 70.

Several states, such as Florida, Texas and California, have similar systems in place, with qualifications. Some parts of Virginia offer tax relief for homeowners 65 and older.

I would even abdicate my right to vote on school budgets if this system were in place. I bet many others would, too.

The problem recently encountered by two school districts with failed budget proposals would probably be eliminated.

— George B. Tierney, Farmingville

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