Hawkins said he looked forward to discussing these issues in the October 18th Gubernatorial debate in Long Island.
"Raising fares for subway riders in NYC and Metro area commuters hurts workers and the environment. What MTA needs instead is a fully-funded capital plan. The riders need the service reliability and enhancement it provides. Workers need the construction jobs. One way to raise revenues is the congestion pricing plan developed by Ted Khell and Charlie Komanoff to raise $1.5 billion a year for the MTA while reducing or eliminating fares and increasing ridership. We also need increased, longterm dedicated transit funding from the federal government from gasoline and carbon taxes.," said Hawkins. The monthly subway Metrocard would be increased by 17%, shooting up the price from $89 to $104, making it the most expensive in the country. Commuters from the suburbs will also see fare hikes, as the LIRR will increase prices from 5.5% to 11.5%, while Metro-North riders will see price jumps ranging from 3.8% to 14.3%.
Hawkins said that the solutions to the fare hikes and service cuts include:
1. Make the rich pay their fair share of taxes: Keep the $16 billion Stock Transfer Tax. Institute a Bankers' Bonus Tax of 50 percent on their $20 billion in 2009 cash bonuses. Restore a more progressive state income tax like we had in the 1970s, which would cut rates for 95 percent of New Yorkers while raising $8 billion more a year. Add those together, that's $34 billion more in state revenues. Subtract the $9 billion projected deficit and that's still a surplus of $25 billion that can used to end the service cuts in public transit and as well as expand public transit. The $25 billion should also be spent on fully funding public schools and colleges and a public jobs program to put the unemployed to work improving out transportation, school, and infrastructure systems.
2. Prioritize Spending on Public Mass Transit: Expanding mass transit is a high priority for the Greens on economic, environmental, and justice grounds. We need to convert to clean-fuel buses, expand bus and rail service to underserved areas, rebuild the interurbans (inter-city rails), and expand inter-city rails, not only subways and street level trolleys, but also personal rapid transit (PRT) on elevated rails, like the demonstration project funded by NYSERDA in Ithaca.
3. Democratize Transportation Boards: We need elected boards, not the appointed boards. A board composed two-thirds of publicly elected members and one-third elected by the workers of the transportation district would best represent the public interest and the expertise and interests of the workers who run the system. Appointed boards allow these public agencies to be used to feather nests of powerful corporate interests and their political representatives in government whose campaigns they finance. Hawkins mentioned two legislative proposals introduced this year at the State Capitol that he supported as a short term solution.
Senator Dilan proposed an increase to the current mortgage recording tax (MRT) in the MTA service area from .30 cents per $100 real estate transaction to a .50 cent rate, and in the upstate areas, from .25 cents per $100 real estate transaction to a .50 cent rate. It is estimated that such an increase would generate $200 million in revenue for the MTA, partly offsetting its growing budget gap.
Senator Perkins and Assembly Member Millman introduced the MTA Stimulus bill (S7433/A10345), which would direct the MTA to use 10% of over $1.3 billion in stimulus grants for capital projects received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).