Assembly Members Demand MTA Save Student MetroCards
February 18th, 2010
Twenty four Assembly members have signed on to a letter demanding that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority preserve funding for student MetroCards. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says the program costs them $214 million a year and a current budget shortfall means they have to phase out the program. The Assembly members reject that notion and claim the funding provided by the state and city is enough to keep the program running.
The MTA says it faces an $800 million hole in its operating budget and a $10 billion gap in its five-year construction plan. Here are some of the highlights from the Richard Brodsky penned letter:
“While the MTA asserts it needs $214 million in additional state and city aid to preserve the program, the actual cost of free and discounted student fares is close to zero. We reject the MTA’s assertion that the program must be valued at the ostensible lost revenue, and point out that state and city funding for the program actually exceeds the cost of providing the service.”
“We understand the use of political tactics in budget controversies. But there are limits, and the decision to put students and families out as a pawn in the struggle to increase City and State funding crosses a line.”
Gene Russianoff of New York Public Interest Group’s Straphangers Campaign disputed Brodksy’s claim that providing students transportation costs almost nothing.
“I am disappointed in Richard,” said Russianoff. “He has done good work watching over authorities and passing important legislation this year, but I don’t think he is adding anything constructive to the conversation.”
Here are comments made by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz on the situation:
“Our working and lower income families will not be able to absorb these additional costs, especially in the current depressed economic state we are in,” said Ortiz.
“This cut is discriminatory in that it affects minority communities to a much higher degree. Everyone is entitled to an education, it should never become a privilege for those who can afford it,” said Ortiz, “We are standing here today to reject this cut to our children’s ability to obtain an education.”By David King on February 18, 2010, 4:53 pm
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