The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has proposed two additional transit fare hikes on top of the fare hike enacted earlier this year. Gas is over $4 per gallon and we all agree it is in our best interest for our environment, economy and national security to use more public transportation.
It does not make sense to call for the increased use of mass transit and increase the cost and lessen the service of our current mass transit system. But elected officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. David Paterson, continue to hide behind the MTA and allow it to hoist fare hikes onto the shoulders of Queens' hard-working middle class.
Any additional fare hike is unacceptable. For far too long, opaque authorities have operated in the state without public oversight. We do not elect MTA officials to their positions and, when the MTA raises fares and the public protests, it provides cover for our elected officials.
Patterson has asked the MTA to look its books. Bloomberg has stated, "That's just bad management." State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is looking at the MTA's books and will release the results of his investigation by September. As our elected officials criticize the MTA administration, the same high-paid officials remain in their posts. Even MTA board member Andrew Saul urged lawmakers to re-examine legislation that would restructure the MTA and streamline its operations.
For once, it is time to take a long-term view. The city and state need to focus on getting more people to use mass transit. Driving less means a cleaner environment, a more stable economy less dependent on foreign oil and a stronger nation no longer dependent on oil from unfriendly nations.
We need more local bus service to make it easier to commute to and from work. Since most trains travel straight through most of Queens, we need more Long Island Rail Road service. We need more express buses, including the use of "rapid transit buses" to make a Queens-Manhattan commute without a car easier for residents not near an LIRR station. We need more energy conservation, substitution of carbon-based fuels and advances in technology to create biofuels and cheaper and more efficient solar and wind powered energy.
We had our first energy crisis in the 1970s. Why have we not learned our lesson yet? We need lower-cost mass transit, not more expensive mass transit. Without leadership and vision from an MTA that answers to the public, this will never happen.
The first step must be a moratorium on all proposed MTA fare increases. Second, the MTA must be audited and restructured in a way to streamline its operations and make its officials accountable to the people it serves. Third, city and state officials must make a real effort to increase mass transit and make it an easy and inexpensive option for the hard-working people of the five boroughs.
©2008 Community News Group
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