Citing the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, rising fuel prices, and rising tolls on bridges, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Carlo Scissura blasted the proposed MTA fare hikes slated for 2013 earlier this week, saying it disproportionately hurts residents of Southern Brooklyn.
In a press release issued on November 7, Scissura lays out the various increases in MTA fares that he feels are both unfair and untimely, especially considering the cost and strain on families in business owners dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Last month, the MTA proposed a series of fare increases that would devastate residents and small businesses, particularly those in Southern and Central Brooklyn where transit options are scarce. A fare and toll hike in 2013 – a very likely scenario – would be the fourth such increase in five years. For riders who use pay-per-ride MetroCards, the proposed increases could mean more than $200 a year in additional costs. For those who use a monthly MetroCard, their total costs could rise $252 a year. Those who live in Southern Brooklyn and ride express buses to Manhattan each day would have to pay the biggest price. Currently, the base express bus fare is $5.50 and a 7-day unlimited-ride Express Bus Plus MetroCard valid on express buses, subways and city buses is $50.
Scissura also points out that reliance on the MTA is becomming more critical for residents, especially considering the rising cost of gas, and the increases motorists will be expected to pay on bridge tolls.
It’s not like driving is any cheaper. Gas prices continue to rise and the MTA proposes to raise tolls on its crossings. Those who use the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, for example, would see the toll jump from $6.50 to $7.50 (it would go from $4.80 to $5.30 for E-ZPass users.) To cross the Verrazano Bridge, the cash round-trip toll would go from $13 to $15 (E-ZPass users would see it rise from $9.60 to $10.60.)
Lastly, Scissura warns that the toll hikes will effect local businesses as well, as shipped goods brought in on trucks will have to charge more to cover the toll increases. Scisurra notes that businesses will likely have to raise prices on all shipped goods.
While Scissura has come out hard against the MTA’s plans for raising fares, he also made a note of praising MTA Chief Joe Lhota, and all the MTA’s workers for providing a safe and speedy restoration to the city’s mass transit system. Still, Scisurra’s main argument is that commuting isn’t getting any cheaper, hammering the point that, “[it] would be devastating to residents of Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Carnarsie, Marine Park, Mill Basin, and Sheepshead Bay, to name a few, because these areas are so underserved by public transportation. These are also some of the neighborhoods hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy. Simply put, they can’t afford any additional costs as they work to rebuild their businesses and their community.”