The speaker of the City Council, Christine Quinn, is adding her name to a growing list of elected officials in New York who oppose a fare hike by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
About two hours before the first public hearing on the fare hike was to begin in Brooklyn last night, an aide to Ms. Quinn released a statement in which the speaker urged the MTA board to "exhaust every possible alternative funding stream before asking straphangers to dig deeper into their wallets."
"Until the MTA has demonstrated that in order to meet operating expenses they must tap hardworking commuters, I will oppose any fare increases," Ms. Quinn said.
More than 100 state legislators have signed a letter asking the MTA to delay a fare hike to give the state a chance to find more funding for the transportation authority, the chief attorney for the Straphangers Campaign, Gene Russianoff, said yesterday.
MTA officials have said they need the extra money to close projected budget gaps beginning in 2009.
The MTA is considering raising the subway fare to $2.25 from $2 and is proposing raising the price of unlimited ride MetroCards. The fare hikes would generate $262 million next year.
Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Democrat of Westchester, asked the MTA to give the Legislature until April 15 to settle a state budget that contains enough funding to avoid a fare increase.
"We are dead serious about saving the fare, and committed to reflecting that goal in our budget deliberations," he said in a statement.
A City Council member who represents parts of Queens and is chairman of the Transportation Committee, John Liu, said yesterday in a statement that he opposes any fare hike. He said the "MTA must do its due diligence and demonstrate an absolute need for higher fares."