Commuters rail against MTA hikes at hearing

More than 150 commuters from Long Island expressed their opinions about the Metropolitan Transportation Authority?s proposed fare hikes at a public hearing Wednesday night.
The public hearing, which was held at the Garden City Hotel, gave residents an opportunity to discuss their personal concerns. Officials say they need to fill a $1.2 billion budget deficit, which could equal an increase in fare revenue and service cuts. Many in attendance said the hikes are unreasonable and unfair.
?They?re locking us back in our homes by doubling the fare,? says Mike Gordino. ?People with disabilities use Paratransit?they can?t do this to us.?
Long Island Bus fare could possibly reach $3.50 for a single ride while handicapped riders could face a hike from $3.50 to $7.
?It starts to add up when you don't have a job,? Mark Cassuto says. ?Any increase by that much would hurt a lot. I'm not looking forward to it if that happens.?
MTA Executive Director and CEO Elliot Sander says to lessen the burden on commuters, he?s hoping state legislatures will approve a proposal from the governor-appointed Ravitch Commission. The legislation calls for tolls on the East River bridges that are currently free. Also, businesses could be asked to shell out cash in the form of a payroll tax.