Greetings, I’m Lisa Daglian, Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, PCAC.
Happy new year! It’s already been quite a year and we’re only three weeks in. I’d like to note that I’m delivering these remarks on Tuesday for Thursday’s Board meeting. A lot is slated for the intervening days – including the Governor’s budget release and the inauguration – and some of our comments may no longer be relevant on Thursday. We look forward to meeting in person again and presenting our testimony on the actual meeting dates, including for Committee Meetings.
But we’re not at that point. COVID-19 remains a real threat to our health and our economy. We salute transit workers who continue to move New York and are glad they’re eligible for vaccines. But until the rest of the population is, the 2021 new normal looks an awful lot like most of 2020.
But there is good news! We’re thrilled that fare hikes are off the table – for now. We believe they shouldn’t be considered at all this year: that projected $100 million would be better in riders’ pockets. Give riders a break and incentives to come back to the system.
On buses and subways, that means keeping the weekly and 30-day MetroCards to support the regular users of the system. It also means re-opening 24/7 service.
For commuter rail, it means pursuing pilot programs like Atlantic Ticket expansion and discounted 20, 40 or 60 trip tickets with longer expiration dates to replace, or complement, the traditional monthly.
Also, good news…additional relief will come with reinstatement of FEMA reimbursement and aid to states and municipalities, along with extra funding for the MTA. The Governor announced new infrastructure projects in his State of the State, and with Polly Trottenberg appointed as the new #2 at USDOT, we’re hopeful that congestion pricing will finally move ahead to pay for them.
There’s light at the end of the tunnel and we deeply appreciate Governor Cuomo, Senator Schumer, and President Biden, who are committed to transit and infrastructure. Riders need your continued support too. Keep the time-based MetroCards and provide discounted rail options.