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Letter: Proposed Service Cuts to Port Washington Line

Both of us are disappointed and troubled by the proposed service cuts to Port Washington line. We supported the MTA plan because we were promised that enhanced funding would curtail the proposed service cuts, which would directly affect commuters in our districts. We voted in good faith. Imagine our shock when we were told those service cuts are back in full. Frankly we feel betrayed by the MTA board.

We urge you to reconsider the service cuts to the Port Washington line. Did you even bother to base your schedule reductions on actual ridership? Each of us knows that there are many times of the day that off-peak trains are full. I am sure your surveys show that. Why would you risk eliminating trains as a means to boost revenue?

We do not understand why you seem to only consider three options in times of crisis–service cuts, fare increases or coming to Albany to bail you out. Perhaps some outside the box thinking is in order? There is $50 million in stimulus dollars available to you. You can achieve $50 million in savings through staff and salary reductions and much more through reduction in overtime. You can cut every outside consultant that is not currently working on a safety or maintenance project which would result in savings of untold millions. You can re-examine your real estate procedures and finally sell off unused property for even more millions. You can issue short-term debt for the remaining gap and use the mobility tax revenue in 2011 to repay the issuance when the economy may show signs of progress; if operating revenue is up, this would result in an insignificant reduction in funding to the capital plan all the while maintaining service levels.

We supported you because we realized mass transportation is the underpinning of a full-bodied economy as well as being the environmentally sound approach. By cutting bus lines you are denying people their ability to go to school and work. Were these cuts to bus lines done carefully or expeditiously?

We urge you to go back to the drawing board. Both of us demand from you a big boost in confidence and when it comes to the MTA. You can save money immediately by cutting back your promotional campaign department; there will be no trains or buses to spare anyway.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. Thank you.

Craig M. Johnson, Senator, 7th District

Michelle Schimel, Assemblywoman, 16th District

(Editors Note: This letter was sent to Mr. Jay Walder, MTA chairman and Ms. Helena Williams, LIRR president, and to the Manhasset Press for publication.)