Says Agency Must Hold ‘Nassau-only’ Hearing for Long Islanders to Air Concerns on $23 daily charge
Jack Martins, candidate for the State Senate’s 7th District, today demanded that the MTA extend the scheduled public hearings on its planned new tolling tax on Manhattan-bound commuters—including holding at least one session focused exclusively on the impacts to the Nassau County communities and the needs of Nassau County commuters.
Citing strong demand for the limited, 3-minute speaking slots that were available to the public, and the fact that the MTA itself burned almost an hour of each meeting with an identical video introduction of the plan, Martins said the original six hearing schedule was not sufficient for Nassau residents and communities who will be disproportionally and directly impacted to voice their opinions and concerns about the proposal.
“The MTA’s plan is just another cash-grab scheme by the MTA and New York City that will once again be done at the expense of hard-working Nassau residents who are just trying to get to work.,” Martins said. “In the process of clearing congestion in Manhattan, traffic will be shifted to our already congested downtowns. Great plan for New York City, but terrible for us. No Long Island leader in their right mind would support such a plan, and these impacts cannot be overlooked and must be addressed.”
“That’s why the MTA appears to have done all they can to limit the public’s ability to weigh in on this disastrous idea, by squeezing speaking slots, scheduling hearings for the middle of the workday, filibustering with useless videos and packing the hearings with cheerleaders like my opponent, Ms. Kaplan, who voted for the plan and called it a ‘huge win’ for Long Island,” said Martins.
“I believe that raising the cost of commuting to the city by $23 or more every day while shifting those cars to our overly congested downtowns is anything but a ‘win’. Long Islanders need to be heard.”
More than 300,000 Long Islanders commute into the city each day—most from Nassau County—and many of them, whether due to geography or work schedules, can’t depend on unreliable transit options to get to work.
“Congestion pricing will hurt middle class families here on Long Island. These are the men and women, police officers, firefighters, construction and workers, office and service workers who will be forced to pay this tax, having had little say in how the program was enacted, designed and implemented,” Martins said. “It’s not only bad for their own family budgets, already stretched by inflation, but also damaging for our region’s economy and growth. These impacts must be recognized and addressed.”
Martins called on the MTA to:
Extend the public hearings, which are scheduled to end today;
Set at least one public hearing exclusively for Nassau County residents;
Schedule meetings at varied times during the day—and not all during midday work hours.
“Hundreds of people have signed up to speak at the MTA’s initial hearings, but I know that many more have been locked out by the arbitrary schedule and time limits. The MTA needs to act now so that Long Islanders can have their voices heard.”
Ultimately, Martins said, the MTA needs to scrap the current plan and come up with better ways to encourage use of mass transit, such as by improving service through increasing reliability, lowering fares and attacking the growing crime wave and homeless issues in NYC subways and LIRR stations.