(Editor's Note: This letter was originally sent to Peter Kalikow, MTA chairman, on the proposed service cuts and fare increases. It is printed below at Legislator Nicolello's request.)
I am writing to state my adamant opposition to the fare hikes and service cuts proposed by the MTA. These proposals will result in more cars on the road, more congestion and more pollution. They will cause immense hardship to commuters who use the Oyster Bay line and will exacerbate the gridlock conditions that already exist in local communities.
Fare hikes create a disincentive for LIRR customers to continue to use mass transit. The impact of increased fares cannot be truly appreciated unless considered in light of the financial burden already placed on commuters. Long Island has the highest cost of living in the nation. The average commuter already pays sky-high property taxes, sales taxes, income taxes and spiking energy costs. By your own statistics, LIRR ridership is down following 2003's fare hike. An increase in fare hikes on the heels of last year's increase will simply send more commuters back to their cars.
The proposal to cut services, especially the Oyster Bay line, is a truly terrible idea. Nassau roads are already congested. Our roads were not designed to handle the volume of cars that use them now. In particular, the road system for north-south traffic, and central Nassau are completely overwhelmed. For these reasons, closure of the Oyster Bay line would be a disaster. I invite you to visit the area yourself. Take a ride on Glen Cove Road or Hillside Avenue or Jericho Turnpike at rush hour. Try to get to the Mineola station at 8 a.m. Try to find a place to park at the Floral Park, New Hyde Park or Westbury stations.
Oyster Bay line commuters cannot be shifted to the main line. The communities along the main line are overwhelmed with traffic. Traffic in these communities has already spilled over into residential streets. There would be nowhere to put the additional vehicles resulting from service cuts. Thus, service cuts would have a ripple effect throughout Nassau creating hardship for thousands and damaging our economy and quality of life.
The MTA must rethink its priorities. Spending hundreds of millions of dollars on revamping tracks and tunnels as well as a proposed third line from Bellerose to Hicksville makes no sense when higher fares and service cuts are driving commuters out of the system.
I strongly urge the MTA to go back to the drawing board because something has gone terribly wrong with the system. You are harming the very people that it is your mission to serve.