Approximately 300 riders, elected officials and union members gathered in Carle Place, Long Island to speak, hear, cheer and boo at the MTA public hearing on proposed service cuts. LIRRCC members Ira Greenberg, Mark Epstein and Larry Rubenstein attended the hearing and Ira and Mark stood in support as Larry delivered the testimony on how harmful the cuts will be and how little money the service cuts will raise ($7 million). Larry asked the MTA Board members to not decide on service cuts without first meeting with the riders to discuss other options.
The dais included MTA Board members Mark Page, Mitch Palley and Alan Capelli, MTA Board Chairman Jay Walder, Chris Boylan – MTA Corporate Affairs and Communications, LIRR President Helena Williams and MTA Bus President Joe Smith.
Senator Craig Johnson’s representative spoke of three important missions of the MTA: (1) to maintain the existing infrastructure; (2) to rein in the 936 consulting contracts and make better staffing decisions; and (3) to create a regional bus authority.
Senator Fucillo’s representative stated the Senator was opposed to the service reductions and his belief that cutting the Merrick Shuttle was a disservice to the community. The Merrick shuttle is the only real shuttle service to a LIRR station on Long Island.
Many riders spoke of the hardship the many, many LI Bus cuts will cause Long Island residents. There was also loud call for the MTA to use $90 million in federal stimulus money to replace the service cuts and a call to enact congestion pricing. Many concerns were voiced from Malvern residents about the cuts to the LIRR West Hempstead branch.
While this hearing was in process, another hearing for Metro-North riders was being held in White Plains, Westchester County. MNRCC member David Buchwald testified against the proposed service reductions and urged other alternatives be considered. Unlike the Long Island meeting, it was a light turnout as only 15 people spoke.
More hearings will be held March 2, 3, 4 and 8. See the hearing schedule on the MTA website.