It’s been just a few weeks since Don Clavin’s was sworn in as the Town of Hempstead Supervisor. Ever since, Clavin and the town’s councilmembers have been working to identify key issues in the area.
Last week, Clavin was on the move. This time, he is battling the MTA and the transportation organization’s decision to raise the price for the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) through the New York City Outer Borough Rail Discount Plan.
“First, the state brings on a congestion tax, and now another unfair burden is being placed on already overpaying LIRR commuters,” Clavin said. “I thought our local representatives in the Democratic [New York] State Senate majority were supposed to support our communities. The hard-working men and women of America’s largest township deserve strong, caring leadership and I urge our state senators to join me in protecting them from more back door tax hikes.”
The MTA recently announced a plan to decrease the LIRR’s pricing plan for New York City residents for those traveling in Queens, Brooklyn or Manhattan (i.e. Bayside to Penn Station). The tickets will decrease by 20 percent in cost, a substantial amount for those opting not to take the subway in lieu of the faster LIRR. The fare decrease is set to take place in May.
But the plan for New York City residents comes as LIRR prices are subject to a 4 percent hike in 2021.
“The MTA’s plan to reduce fares for some commuters and to raise rates for others, is unfair and insulting to our residents who work hard to make a living here on Long Island,” Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby said. “I hope the MTA reconsiders this decision, which impacts the wallets of so many residents in my district and across the entire town.”
Clavin and the town councilmembers were stationed at the LIRR hub in Merrick, which is one of the busiest stops on the Babylon line. Currently, commuters pay approximately $300 for monthly tickets to commute to their jobs in New York City, and that doesn’t include those who also need to purchase a MetroCard to travel outside of Penn Station. Prior to the 2021 hike, the annual cost is almost $4,000 for commuters.
MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye believes the plan is efficient, despite the anger of Long Island officials and residents. Foye said he was pleased with the move to decrease prices for inter-borough service because many New York City residents aren’t near a subway station.
While the MTA claims the decrease for inter-borough service is separate from the previously-scheduled hike for Long Islanders, Town of Hempstead officials are fighting it.
“Overburdened taxpayers here on Long Island deserve strong leadership in Albany,” Clavin said. “Unfortunately, this decision by the MTA in support of the state legislature’s actions demonstrates how the state senate’s Democratic majority is not acting in the best interests of the residents of the Town of Hempstead and across Long Island. Instead of appeasing New York City, our local senators should go back to their roots and support the men and women who are working hard to make a living right here in the communities that they represent.”
Just after the Town of Hempstead held its press conference, the Town of Brookhaven did the same in Ronkonkoma. Brookhaven officials called on the MTA to fully abandon the 4 percent hike next year, going as far as calling for a revised discount for Long Island riders.
“LIRR commuters are already paying premium prices to commute to the city in overcrowded train cars, while contending with constant delays and service interruptions,” Councilman Dennis Dunne Sr., who represents Levittown, said. “While our residents are struggling to pay for their commute to work, our state senators are nowhere to be found except supporting more tax and rate increases for suburban neighbors. We call on the senate majority to join us in standing up for our taxpayers against the MTA’s plan.”
The town board will now write to the New York State Senators who represent Long Island, urging them to publicly oppose the MTA’s decision to keep the increase for Long Islanders in place.