2003-03-15 / Community

Increased Transit Fares Impact Rockaway

By Miriam Rosenberg Contributing Editor

Increased Transit Fares Impact Rockaway
By Miriam Rosenberg
Contributing Editor

Rockaway residents may soon be taking another hit in the pocketbook as the operators of local private bus companies try to follow the Metro-politan Transit Authority's lead, and increase fares.

Jamaica Bus, Inc. and Green Bus Lines, along with the other private subsidized companies in New York City, are petitioning for off-peak fare hikes that match what the MTA granted to city buses and trains on March 6.

The Director of Operations for Jamaica Bus, Ray Martini, explained the fare hike petition.

"The petition is to increase the off-peak fare of the one dollar charged on local routes by the companies, as well as tying any future local fares with those charged by the New York City Transit Authority," said Martini.

The Wave talked with Green Bus and Jamaica Bus lines passengers ab-out the proposed two-dollar increase.

"My feeling is they shouldn't raise the fare because the city bus lines are raising the fare," said Edna Brad-shaw, who works for Local 1199 and rides the Green Bus Q22 every day. "First, we don't get the service that we're supposed to get that the other areas receive. Number two the cost of living has gone up, and we can't afford a raise in transportation."

Maryann Welsh is another Q22 daily passenger. She told The Wave, "I think they should reduce the fare, if anything," said Welsh. "The service is miserable and there's a year between buses."

Jamaica Bus riders were also unhappy about the proposed increases. "I ride it everyday," said MaryLou (who did not give her last name), about riding the Q113. "The way the economy is now and the rents going up - it's ridiculous."

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) will decide if fares for the private lines should be increased. Tom Cocola, a DOT spokes-man, said previously that nothing would be decided until after the MTA meeting was held.

"We won't know anything until the MTA's meeting, and then we will consider rate increases and hold public hearings," Cocola said through a spokeswoman.

Martini, the Jamaica Bus spokes-person said that a public hearing on the petition for changes in the regular bus fare is scheduled for March 24 at Spector Hall, 22 Reade Street, in Man-hattan at 10 a.m.

Although public hearings are still taking place concerning an increase for express service on the private bus lines, DOT spokesman Cocola said the new four-dollar fare for these buses is scheduled to go into effect in April.

City Councilman John Liu, chairman of the New York City Council Transportation Committee, talked to The Wave about the decision to increase express bus fares, which seemed to have laready been already made, despite the fact that the hearing process was not yet completed.

"I think that's very disserving. It almost sounds like an MTA hearing, where they have these 10 hearings - most of the board members didn't even show up for the hearings, and they're still planning to vote tomorrow," said Councilman Liu, the day before the MTA increased city fares. "I can't explain why they're calling them hearings."

The second of two hearings on the fare increase for express bus service in the Rockaways is scheduled for March 17 at 2pm at 120-55 Queens Boule-vard, Room 213, Part 2, Queens Bor-ough President's Office.

The new MTA fares go into effect May 1, and the new tolls, as much as 50 cents higher on bridges and tunnels, take effect in mid-May, according to MTA Chairman Peter S. Kalikow.

"The board's action....while difficult, will ultimately ensure that the New York metropolitan region will continue to have the best transit system in the world," Kalikow said.

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