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Be creative to avoid more cuts to MTA

An open letter to MTA Chairman Jay Walder and other MTA executives:

We are grateful that, after great pressure, you have finally agreed to not eliminate student MetroCards next fall. This is a necessity for nearly 600,000 city schoolchildren who depend on the free and half-fare cards and for all New Yorkers who value strong public transportation. It was an ill-conceived plan in the first place.

Your seeming largesse is merely a drop in the bucket. More must be done. Years of under-funding mass transit has caught up to us as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority eliminated two subway lines and canceled or shrank dozens of bus lines. Worse yet, more fare hikes are around the corner. Your apparent tendency to inflict distress upon working families will continue to be a morass around the necks of the millions who depend on mass transit.

The only way forward is through the implementation of hard work and creative policy leadership and partnership. Affordable fares and high-quality service for riders should be your top priorities. Accordingly, we urge you to take the following steps to put the MTA back on solid ground:

1. Ensure that our subways, buses and trains are serving the needs of your customers, the middle- and working-class families who depend on these services. We are your real partners in business.

2. Research and implement innovations that will minimize waste and improve service, like camera-enforced bus lanes, lower off-peak fares, accountability and transparency of all finances involving the MTA.

3. Implement fair pay and working conditions for the thousands of workers who keep our transit system running.

4. Join with city, state and federal officials to get more funding for the routine operation and maintenance of city transit in addition to essential expansion services.

Changes like these will achieve the long-term growth changes we need to really put the MTA on solid financial ground. It is time to act.

Albert Baldeo

Ozone Park

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