| 02 Mar 2015 | 04:26

    the metropolitan transportation authority's current fiscal crisis should surprise no one. for years, city and state leaders have taken credit for rebuilding the system while the mta has financed capital improvements with excessive debt. now the mta finds itself with major budget holes to fill, reflected in the proposed service cuts and fare hikes which mta ceo and executive director elliot sander has characterized as "draconian." some of the lowlights of the mta's proposed budget include: ? increasing fares by 23 percent, which could translate into a base fare of up to $2.50, a 30-day unlimited fare of $103 and the elimination of the pay-per ride bonuses on purchases of $7 or more. ? eliminating subway and bus lines. this would include: the w train and the m6, m8, m10, m18, m27, x25, x27 and x28 buses; late night service would also be eliminated on the m1, m2, m16, m23, m42, m50, m66, m79, m96 and m104 buses. ? more crowding on trains, which will cause one to two minutes of extra wait time during various times of the day on the 1, 4, 5, 6, a, b, e, f, n, q and r trains. ? increasing time between trains on the a, e, f, n, q and r on weekends from 8 to 10 minutes, and on the 1, 4, 5, 6, a, e, f, n, q and r to 30 minutes during late night hours (2 to 5 a.m.). ? increasing fares up to 250 percent on access-a-ride from $2 to $5. in order to avoid the drastic measures outlined here and to remedy the mta's reliance on debt, gov. david paterson appointed former mta chairman richard ravitch to examine the potential for new revenue streams. in december, ravitch released a set of recommendations calling for the implementation of a nominal payroll tax to be paid by employers within the 12 counties served by the mta, the introduction of tolls to the east and harlem river bridges and a fare increase of 8 percent (instead of 23 percent). while i recognize that new tolls and taxes are never desirable, i believe that the consequences of the proposed fare hikes and service cuts would be much worse. subway riders already pay a 69 percent fare burden while the national average is 37 percent. the fare burden would increase to an astounding 83 percent if we don't approve the ravitch commission proposals. that is not fair share. a fair solution to the mta's fiscal crisis is necessary to ensure the future vitality of new york city as the economic generator for the state and region. twenty-first century mass transit is essential to new york's ability to rebound from the current recession. this is why businesses should reasonably and responsibly share some of the cost. employers need a working transit system for their customers and their staff. some opponents have argued that tolling the east river and harlem river bridges will unfairly hurt families who need to drive into or out of manhattan. however, drivers also benefit from mass transit, which reduces the number of vehicles on the road and alleviates gridlock. without a strong mass transit system, we won't have a functioning city for people to want or need to drive into, so it's only fair that drivers share the burden of supporting buses and subways. all of our futures depend on finding solutions that are equitable and inflict the least amount of harm. that is why i support the bridge toll and payroll tax proposals, and will urge my colleagues in the senate to pass this fair share system. -- liz krueger represents the 26th state senate district on the upper east side.