Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef warned MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota that the agency should hold a public fare hearing in the county. In his October 26th letter to Lhota, Vanderhoef said that the upcoming hearings will be held in 10 out of the 12 MTA-member Counties, excluding Rockland and Putnam.
He also expressed opposition to the MTA’s proposed fare increases, and called for MTA’s Metro-North services in Rockland to be exempt from the increases, based on a 2012 study that showed a $40 million value gap between what residents and businesses pay to MTA and what the County receives in transit service and funding.
Read the entire letter.
October 26, 2012
Dear Chairman Lhota:
On behalf of Rockland County commuters and taxpayers, I must express sincere disappointment in MTA’s decision to not hold a public hearing on the proposed fare increases in Rockland County. As I have stated in the past, I support the proposed legislation to amend the Public Authorities Law to require the MTA to hold hearings in each county that is allocated a voting member of the MTA before proposed changes in service or fares could take effect. I will be asking Rockland County’s representatives in the Senate and the Assembly to again reintroduce this important legislation and to make every effort to ensure it passes both the Assembly and the Senate in 2013.
In the meantime, however, I respectfully request that MTA schedule a public fare hearing in Rockland County for your currently proposed fare increases. It is unacceptable that the closest public hearing locations are at least 40 minutes away from Rockland County, and, in each case, offer extremely limited transit options for travel to those locations (Newburgh and Yonkers).
Hearings will occur in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx, Staten Island, Queens, Nassau County, Orange County and Westchester County. Customers may also visit "satellite facilities" where comments can be videotaped in Manhattan, Dutchess County, Suffolk County and Nassau County. That leaves just two MTA voting-member Counties without a fair opportunity to comment: Putnam and Rockland.
According to our most recent MTA Value Gap Analysis (February 2012), each year Rockland County pays at least $40 million more to MTA than it receives in transit service and funding. Rockland County is one of only two counties (with Orange) in the MTA region that has a value gap; therefore, it makes no sense for Rockland residents to not be given a fair opportunity to comment on these proposed fare increases. In fact, all of the other MTA counties and boroughs benefit from value surpluses – they get more service than they pay for. Add to this the extremely limited amount of train service MTA Metro-North provides to Rockland County, and it becomes even more inequitable that no hearing is scheduled for Rockland.
With regard to the proposed fare increases, I must once again voice my vehement opposition and call for no increase to fares from Metro-North’s Rockland County rail stations in Spring Valley, Nanuet, Pearl River and Sloatsburg. I also call for no fare increase for the Haverstraw-Ossining ferry – a vital commute alternative that helps reduce congestion on the Tappan Zee Bridge. MTA owes Rockland County more than $40 million a year already. There is no reason for Rockland County commuters to have to bear any more of the burden for MTA’s financial mismanagement. It is simple common sense that dictates that Rockland County be exempt from these fare increases.
Further to this point, there are other revenue-generating alternatives, such as tolling at the East River crossings, which should be put into place before Rockland County’s train fares are raised. The projected revenue from tolls at crossings such as the Queensboro, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges could generate significant funds, which could and should be dedicated to maintaining and improving transit to New York City.
I have asked Rockland County’s MTA Board representative Carl Wortendyke to further discuss with you Rockland County’s need for a public fare hearing. In addition, I have directed Mr. Wortendyke to vote “no” to any fare increase proposal that includes increased fares for Metro-North’s West of Hudson services in Rockland County.
Thank you for your consideration of these issues, which are extremely important to Rockland County. Please feel free to call me if you would like to discuss these points in greater detail.C. Scott Vanderhoef
Rockland County Executive