Howie Hawkins Opposes Fare Hike for NYC Subway, Metro Trains

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party  candidate for Governor, came out today against MTA's vote to raise fares on NYC  Subways and metro train lines. He said he would seek to rescind them if elected  Governor.

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).