Metro-North commuters are being warned they may have to dig deeper into their pockets - a watchdog group is telling them to prepare for a fare hike of around 32 per cent - Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's"Payroll Mobility Tax" or PMT - was approved by former Governor David Paterson in 2009 to avert service cuts as the MTA battled a record deficit. Last month, a judge ruled the PMT unconstitutional.
The judge's ruling was in response to a 2010 lawsuit filed by Nassau County officials. Putnam and Westchester counties later joined the action to have the MTA tax overturned.
Charles Brecher is Research Director at the Citizens Budget Commission - In a controversial blog post entitled "Suburban Smiles May Turn To Frowns." he declared Metro-North fares will skyrocket to make up lost revenue.
MTA Chairman Joe Lhota acknowledged the MTA is already exploring ways to reduce or eliminate its discount on pay-per-ride MetroCards. Lhota spoke at a Crain's New York breakfast forum in Manhattan Wednesday.
Lhota says the MTA will publish its proposals and then hold public hearings before its board votes on a final budget in December. Charles Brecher warns the outlook could change by then. Meanwhile, Lhota says he's confident the court WILL overturn the August 22nd ruling against the PMT - he told reporters after the breakfast he didn't think much of the CBC blog post.
The PMT makes up 15 per cent of the MTA's budget - it remains in place for now, pending outcome of the appeal.