This article has been updated.
ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- Proposed fare hikes dominated the discussion during an MTA meeting in Rockland County on Thursday, held to address the concerns of commuters and local political officials.
During the event, Rockland County Executive Ed Day again urged the MTA not to impose fare hikes on local commuters whose tickets have already increased sharply while, he said, service has worsened.
The remarks were delivered at the hearing on Day's behalf by Stephen J. Powers, the County Executive's director of Public Policy and Intergovernmental Relations.
"This exemption request is not just based on our annual, $40 million value gap. Nor having the dubious distinction of being the most underserved county in the MTA region," he said. "It is also based on the more than 52 percent average increase in fares we have experienced in just the past 10 years, plus the sub-par rail service provided to Rockland County on the Pascack Valley Line."
Day's administration has been working with the MTA to address the $40 million value gap between what Rockland residents pay and the commuter services they receive.
The county executive said that collaboration has resulted in a small narrowing of the value gap. He noted that the Metro-North last year permanently reduced the annual permit fee for West of Hudson rail station parking to just $20.
More recently, the MTA agreed to expanding Saturday service and launching Sunday service on the Tappan ZEExpress. Last year, Metro-North also permanently reduced the annual permit fee for West of Hudson rail station parking to just $20.
But Day noted that fares continue to rise. Since just 2007, there have been three fare increases with service cuts from New Jersey Transit, along with five increases from Metro-North.
"Rockland commuters have had eight increases in nine years -- more increases than anyone else in the MTA region," he said.
He noted that Metro-North has incurred no additional costs to operate the service and has made no investments in that line.
"It costs less now to operate because of the service cuts. Yet our riders endured two fare increases last year alone. Why should we pay more for less," he asked.
The meeting was one of eight the MTA is holding across the region. The next meeting will be at 5 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 20 at the New York Power Authority, Jaguar Room, 123 Main St., White Plains.
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