Mocker questions MTA about lower fare increases and union negotiations

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November MTA Board meeting

November MTA Board meeting

After hearing an update to the financial plan, MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast takes questions from reporters about the 2015 and 2017 fare and toll hikes and financial stability of the agency.

The plan drafted in July had been to increase rates by 7.5 percent in 2015, and again in 2017 — the plan now would limit those increases to four percent.

The agency said the financial situation is still fragile. The MTA plans to compensate for smaller fare and toll increase (which would have raised an additional $900 million) by undertaking a half-billion-dollar cost-cut binge. The agency has also seen a surge in revenue and cost savings that will help defray the need for bigger hikes.

The outlook also is counting on “net zero” labor costs. That means any raises for represented employees must be paid for through employee contributions to health care or work-rule revisions. Negotiations with unions are still on going.

Some service additions were also announced on on the Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5 as well as the A, E F, G, L and M lines.

“We try to keep costs down in order to minimize the financial burden on our customers, and as this financial plan shows, we are succeeding in that effort,” said MTA Chairman Thomas F. Prendergast in a statement. “Our customers want value, which is quality and quantity of service, and that service has to be reliable and safe. Through this financial plan, that’s what we work to provide.”

The General Chairman of the union that represents LIRR workers issued a statement criticizing the board’s announcements.

“They boast about how managers have not received raises in five years? If you were a manager that has not benefited from the game of restructuring, title changes, promotions or increased duties…maybe?” said Anthony Simon.

“They have done whatever they could to get raises to managers in the clever ways they needed to keep them happy… while the employees that actual move people get nothing but harassed about the need to be more efficient. As of now, the MTA and their “consultants” have decided that by turning the public against the hard working men and women of the MTA, instead of recognizing the failure of bloated, irresponsible layers of management, they will solve the fiscal mess they can’t seem to get out of,” Simon said.

“The MTA’s revenues have rebounded dramatically. Ridership is at its highest point in decades. They are flush with cash. The workforce is incredibly productive,” said Transport Workers Union Local 100 President John Samuelsen in a statement.

“The MTA has more than enough revenue to pay a decent raise to its workers, and enough revenue to completely forego a fare increase for the foreseeable future. They’re tossing a few crumbs at the public and expect to be patted on the back. It’s pretty outrageous. Both the workers and the riders deserve better, “ Samuelsen said.