December 10, 2014
MALLIOTAKIS TESTIMONY TO BE DELIVERED
AT TONIGHT’S MTA HEARING ON PROPOSED TOLL INCREASES
To: Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
From: Nicole Malliotakis, Member of Assembly
Date: December 10, 2014
Re: Public Hearing on Proposed Changes in Fares, Crossing Charges, and Service
My name is Nicole Malliotakis and I represent the East Shore of Staten Island and part of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, in the New York State Assembly. I have the distinct privilege of representing communities on both sides of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and wish to convey the unique perspective of what it’s like for residents of each borough to continually face toll increases on crossing a bridge that for many is simply unavoidable.
It is a well-known fact that Staten Islanders and Brooklynites have long funded the MTA by virtue of tolls they pay on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, with the Verrazano generating an annual profit of approximately $250 million. But that profit is mostly used to fund other parts of the MTA transportation network while debt is issued for regular maintenance of the bridge, like the current deck replacement project. This is an unfair burden placed on the many commuters who use the bridge to go to work or school.
While no major capital infrastructure projects for Southwest Brooklyn or Staten Island were included in the recently announced Capital Plan proposal, it did include more debt being issued for mega projects like the Manhattan 2nd Avenue Subway, Metro North, and the Long Island East Side Access Project—which is unjustifiably overrun by 14 years and over-budget by $6 billion. It is this type of mismanagement and reckless spending that has driven up a $40 billion debt load at the MTA and made it the 5th most indebted government entity after the States of California, Massachusetts, New York, and the City of New York. Lack of priorities on the part of the MTA has led to public transportation-starved communities in the outer boroughs, or as our Mayor would say: a tale of two cities with “its haves and have-nots.”
I sincerely urge the MTA to take the following concrete steps toward reducing this tremendous strain on my constituents, including:
1. maintaining the Staten Island Resident Discount at $5.50;
2. establishing a discount program for Brooklyn residents similar to that of the Port Authority which provides a 58% discount for commuters who make 3 or more trips in a 30-day period; and
3. joining me in urging the Governor and legislative leaders to obtain a portion of the newly realized $5 billion state surplus to avoid the toll and fare increases at issue here tonight.
While we are appreciate the restoration of bus lines on both sides of the bridge, as well as the aforementioned discount, the fact remains that the residents of Staten Island and Southwest Brooklyn are NOT getting their money’s worth. I look forward to working with you to correct that.