Commuters get to rail against MTA hikes at hearing

Long Island?s commuters have the opportunity to sound off about the Metropolitan Transportation Authority?s proposed fare hikes at a public hearing Wednesday night.
The hearing begins at 6 p.m. at the Garden City Hotel, where mass transit riders are expected to pack in. The MTA has to fill a $1.2 billion budget deficit, which means it must increase fare revenue by about 23 percent. LIRR riders in particular could face a rate hike of up to 29 percent. Long Island Bus customers could have to pay $3.50 for a single ride, which is $1.50 more than they pay now.
Many Long Islanders say such hikes would only hurt those who are already struggling.
Officials say these fare hikes could be less if state legislators approve a proposal from the Ravitch Commission, appointed by Gov. David Paterson. That proposal would toll East River crossing bridges that are currently free. Also, businesses would have to shell out cash in the form of a payroll tax. Still, many say it?s a lose-lose for Long Island.