2019-02-06 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

No Free Ride

“A Lowered Fare Is More Fair” (Editorial, January 30) is easier said than done. The MTA is currently contemplating a fare increase rather than a decrease to deal with this year’s operating deficits of several hundred million. The capital side shortfall is in the billions. Longterm MTA debt exceeds $40 billion. This results in debt service payments eating up 17% of the annual budget. Yearly debt service payments will grow to 20% under the next MTA Five Year 2020 – 2024 Capital Plan. The MTA has no available surplus operating dollars to delay any fare increase, let alone offer any reductions. Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio’s current and upcoming budgets include no funding to do either. Both the MTA and elected officials have never been serious about combating fare evasion. Every year, the MTA loses over $200 million from those who refuse to pay their way. NYC district attorneys will not prosecute fare evaders. This encourages more riders not to pay. NYC Transit has their hands tied, thus giving up enforcing fare payments.

For those public officials, MTA board members and others who oppose any fare increases and will be quick to demagogue on this issue (for political purposes to win upcoming elections), just how would the MTA balance financial shortfalls? Which capital improvement projects should the MTA cancel to help balance the budget and avoid fare increases? Which route(s) would you support service reductions on to save operating dollars? Would you volunteer to reduce service, cancel or delay any capital projects benefiting constituents in your district? In which future union contracts would you ask for more flexible work assignments, hire part-time employees, contract out more work to the private sector, and reduce salary increases? Will you ask employees to increase their contributions toward medical coverage and retirement pensions?

Contrary to the heated rhetoric of elected officials and so-called transit advocates, MTA services continue to be one of the best bargains in town. Since the 1950s, the average cost of riding either the bus, subway or commuter rail has gone up at a lower rate than either the consumer price index or inflation. The MetroCard introduced in 1996 affords a free transfer between bus and subway. Prior to this, riders had to pay two full fares.

A majority of residents purchase weekly or monthly NYC Transit bus/subway MetroCards, and/or LIRR or Metro-North tickets which reduce the cost per ride significantly below the base fare.

In the end, quality and frequency of service is dependent upon secure revenue streams. We all will have to contribute – be it at the fare box or tax revenues generated by different levels of government redistributed back to the MTA.

TANSTAAFL or “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” or in this case a free ride. Someone has to pay for it.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Make Subways Accessible

To The Editor:

I applaud the Gazette for all of the articles it presents to us each week, a mixture of the goodness in people and those who harm others. We learn by reading your wonderful paper.

I am so sad about the mother who fell down a flight of subway steps in Manhattan and was killed. We must have accessibility in the subways. There are so many stations that do not have elevators for those who are disabled, in wheelchairs and are elderly, or transporting children in strollers. Must a bad accident killing a young mother happen to wake up the MTA to begin making the subway accessible to all? I did ride in an accessible elevator on a station and one time it was not working.

I am appalled to learn that a retired policeman punched his mother in the face. That behavior is unbecoming of a police officer who is supposed to uphold the law. He is not obeying the Commandment to honor one’s mother.

I am glad that the subway fare will be the same for one year. Let it last and by the way, again, why must the MTA’s books not be checked and we working people have to suffer?

I am appalled to learn that an NFL player attacked an NYPD officer. To me this is awful. These players are so-called heroes and are paid millions of dollars. Well, on the contrary, the officers are heroes and must be given a raise in salary. Too much publicity is given to sports figures, to Super Bowls and World Series, etc. We must concentrate on those who save lives.

I agree with our governor in that the federal workers must not be used as pawns in a dispute with Congress and the president. Something must be done to prevent another shutdown.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

Bevin Is Cold-Hearted

To The Editor:

The recent comment from Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin that “we are getting soft” because schools were being closed in the Midwest due to the extremely cold temperatures is totally asinine and defies all logic. With wind chills expected to be as low as -45 degrees, how could anybody be able to tolerate such dangerously cold temperatures, especially children, who might be waiting for school buses or who have to walk to school? This governor is totally ignorant for making such a comment, and weatherman Al Roker was absolutely correct in calling him a nitwit governor. Nobody should venture outside with such dangerous weather conditions. Frostbite could occur in a very short time.

John Amato
Fresh Meadows

Rikers Emptied In Ozone Pk

A copy of this letter was received at the offices of the Queens Gazette.

An open letter to all Council Members, NYS Senators, Assembly Members:

We are appealing to your sense of civic duty, your responsibility to the safety of all New Yorkers, and your obligation to the oath that you would represent all New Yorkers, regardless of race, color, religious creed, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry and age. You solemnly swore, or affirmed, that you would support the Constitution of the United States and protect the residents of the City of New York, residing in the state of New York. These are oaths and vows that are taken very seriously, and anything short of that is dereliction of duty, plain and simple.

The 60,000 plus residents that reside in Ozone Park, 11416 and 11417, feel abandoned and left out. We feel unsafe, alone, desperate, scared, are living in fear and unsure of tomorrow in a town that has been inundated with homeless men since June. It has gotten so bad that we now do routine ride-arounds because people are so scared. The community has spoken and noticed the rise in homeless men that have been plaguing our community in the last seven months. It is almost as if they are bringing Rikers Island’s notorious to our communities and leaving them here without resources, without the proper help, without counseling, without housing, and without regard for human life and dignity. This is not the New York I grew up in, nor is it the New York that we had grown accustomed to in the last 25 years.

Let me make this perfectly clear: this is not a Democratic- or Republican-caused problem, it is not a white or black problem, and it is not a male or female problem. It is a societal problem that has been made worse by the emptying of Rikers Island, leaving the known criminals, known sex offenders, and known repeat offenders smack in the heart of family neighborhoods.

This is compounded by the high cost of living. If you want to know where to place blame, place it on the system that caused our taxes to skyrocket, our water bills to dramatically increase, our insurance to rise, and the cost of doing business in New York to spiral out of control. Add to it the constant summonses from the many different agencies people get, without discretion. The cost of maintaining a home and rents have doubled in the last 10-15 years. One bedrooms in Ozone Park are now more than 1,500-$1,700 a month. The cost of living in New York has displaced the hard-working families, leaving them out in the cold.

However, the men that have infiltrated our communities are men that were in the system, who lived in the system, and now are thrown back to the streets. Some have told us they were driven by the Department of Correction bus and dropped off on the corner, left to fend for themselves.

I just recently realized that sex offenders can live wherever they want, as long as they are not on parole or probation. I was always under the misconception that if you are on the sexual offenders list you are barred from living within certain distances of schools, parks, or anywhere children would be. But I was disillusioned. And I wonder how many New Yorkers do not know this – they can live wherever they want after parole or probation. Wow, what a stab in the gut.

I wonder who is going to explain to the parents of the 11-year-old child that we have to take our fair share of men, sexual offenders and all. “Sorry, your son was exposed, but be grateful it wasn’t worse.” Is this the attitude New Yorkers need to get accustomed to?

We are appealing to the NYC Council to stop the madness of placing 90 shelters in residential communities, with NO community input, NO community board input, and NO input from the elected officials. What is the sense of spending millions in the budget for community boards if they are nothing more than just another useless monthly meeting to stop in and say hello? Community boards were the backbone of the communities they represented, but today the power and the advice they give falls on deaf ears.

We are at a crossroads. You can rise up and be the hero all New Yorkers are looking for, you can be standing on the right side of history, and you can be standing with your constituents representing their best interests. Or you can push an agenda that is going to hurt the quality of life and the safety of every New Yorker, and you can be the one to explain to those parents why their child was molested, raped, kidnapped, or worse. And yes, it is going to happen. The more Rikers is emptied the worse it is going to get – that is a promise. I have seen the rise of people being scared, the men lurking around at all hours of the day and night.

What was once a safe city, where people felt safe, is now Gotham of the Batman series. We need help and we need help now. We are imploring you to please stop this madness and meet on the issues at hand. These are the issues that mean the most to people, the fact that many, many do not feel the safety of their communities any more. We must address this now before it gets worse. We must have a plan of action to help the homeless and not warehouse them in these cluster buildings, making a handful of people wealthy on the backs of the less fortunate.

We are requesting a meeting with either you, and/or the committee(s) that oversee these homeless shelters and the release of sex offenders, to create new laws, so that sex offenders are not living within the range of where children are, whether on parole or probation. We want to be proactive to help create new laws to protect the citizens and hopefully work to control how the shelters are placed in our communities, with the input of our local community boards. And even discuss then- Mayor Bloomberg’s Advantage Program (2007- 2011), which for a while worked.

Sam Esposito
President, Ozone Park Block Association

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