'Not ready': MTA postpones fare hike vote until February

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NEW YORK -

The MTA board on Thursday postponed until February a planned vote on possible fare hikes for trains, buses and bridge tolls.

Mitch Paley, Long Island's only current MTA board member and a vocal supporter of delaying the vote, was pleased with the unanimous decision.

"I am hopeful that a decision in February will be better than a quick decision in January that clearly we were not ready for," he says.

The Long Island Rail Road would have faced a monthly fare increase of 3.85 percent, or a maximum of $15. Weekly tickets could have gone up by $5.75. The fare hike would help offset the MTA's ever-increasing costs. Without the hike, some worried that services would have to be cut. But commuter advocates protested, saying constant fare hikes have taxed riders too much.

"To constantly come back to us and pay more is just not feasible," says Mark Epstein, of the LIRR Commuter Council.

Some commuters told News 12 that they're glad the MTA board has postponed its vote, adding they hope the board can figure out a way to keep fares where they are now.

MTA officials estimate the delayed vote will cost them about $30 million in lost revenue. But some board members, including Paley, say it's worth the money, adding that the board is looking at all options internally and ones coming out of Albany that could possibly ward off an increase.

If the fare increase was approved Thursday, the MTA says it could have brought in as much as $316 million a year for the agency.

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