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					Testimony of New York City Councilmember Robert Jackson Before the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Regarding the Proposed Fare Increases and Service Reductions January 14, 2009

Tonight I speak to you as the global economic crisis continues to hit home for all New Yorkers. As a City Councilmember, I hear the concerns and worries of my constituents every day. In the neighborhoods of my District, which includes West Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights and Inwood, the average family of four makes under $34,000 a year; their economic security is already very fragile. They will feel the pinch of every nickel of the proposed fare increases. Coupled with the major service reductions, the proposed budget plan will have serious consequences for the residents of Upper Manhattan. The service reduction proposals that would most negatively impact my constitutents are: Increasing Subdivision B Headway on Weekends to 10 Minutes: Currently, a weekend trip on the A line from and to Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood is a crowded affair, involving little room for passengers’ strollers and packages. Decreasing the frequency of trains would only further inconvenience your customers. Revising Weekday Midday & Evening Guidelines to 125% Seated Load: Again, the current reality on the A line from and to Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood during a weekday evening is one of conditions with at least 10 standees per car. Revising the seated load upward will only exacerbate the already crowded cars. Elimination of Overnight Bus Service on the M2 and M104 lines Seeming Total Elimination of the M18 line: In Additional Actions for Budget Balance, this item is listed under both “Eliminate Weekend Local Bus Service” and “Eliminate Weekday Service on Low Performing Local Bus Routes,” which would seemingly completely eliminate the M18 line. This would have a particular impact on the many City College students residing in my District who depend on this bus line and the seniors who frequent it on the weekends. Reduction of Span of Service on M11 and M100 lines.

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As an elected official, I know first-hand the serious decisions we must make at this time of fiscal crisis. But the balance sheet is not the only consideration. In order to be prudent and fully fiscally responsible, government must consider the extended ramification of its actions.

Example, retreating from a zero tolerance of graffiti may produce short-term and superficial savings. In the long haul, it will lead to a l970’s style decline that will reverberate far beyond the current crisis. At a point in time when the Mayor and President-elect are pushing sustainability, reduced carbon footprints and, generally, encouraging the public to increase its reliance on mass transit, the MTA must align its programs with this vision, advocate for itself at the Federal level, consider developing public-private partnerships that reward transit users and be creative as well as trim in its own operations without sacrificing its most important goal – safety for workers and passengers.