MTA and Thruway Deliver Lumps of Coal to Hudson Valley Commuters

Calls on Senate to pass authority reform legislation
December 19, 2007

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) expressed deep disappointment that the Boards of both the Thruway and Metropolitan Transit Authority voted to move forward with plans to raise tolls and fares on Hudson Valley commuters.

“Time and again, the instincts of the Thruway Authority and the MTA have been to raise fees first and ask questions later,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “I will redouble my efforts to secure legislation that brings the oversight and accountability we so desperately need to reform our system of public authorities.”

The Thruway Authority voted today to move ahead with a budget plan that would increase tolls in 2009 despite an ongoing audit by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and a series of Assembly hearings on the Thruway’s proposal. The MTA moved to approve a 4% across the board fare and toll hike on bridges, tunnels and public transit under their control. Mr. Cahill noted that the MTA hike is a double whammy on Hudson Valley commuters who rely on Metro North and New York City subways and buses to get to and from work each day.

“The decisions by these two public authorities to reach into the pockets of taxpayers before conducting a thorough examination of their own finances and funding options raises serious questions and certainly highlights the need for comprehensive authority reform legislation,” Assemblymember Cahill said.

Mr. Cahill is a co-sponsor of the Public Authority Reform Act (A.9296), passed by the Assembly in June. A key provision in that legislation would create an Independent Budget Office (IBO) to serve as a watchdog over the hundreds of authorities currently operating with minimal oversight in all corners of the state.

“If the State Senate passed this legislation back in June, we might have already had the mechanisms in place to provide the oversight necessary to avoid the toll hike,” said Mr. Cahill. “Authority reform must be included on the Senate’s agenda when we return to Albany next month.”