Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to abandon its proposed parking fee increase at Metro-North stations until the issue has had a full public hearing.
“It is not right to spring an unplanned parking fee increase on already over-burdened commuters,” she said. “As it is, Putnam County commuters pay nearly $6,000 a year for their Metro-North tickets and parking fees. To add a 10 to 14 percent increase in parking costs on top of that, and without any warning, will be too much for some riders to bear.”
The riding public and elected officials deserve time to assess and advocate over the fairness of this increase, said Odell.
The MTA did not publicly announce the price hike it proposed and the parking fee increases were not included in its fare increase debate, according to the county executive. Instead, word leaked out through the media that parking costs would go up in December and that free Saturday parking would be eliminated.
The increases would raise the costs at 25 stations where parking lots are owned by Metro-North and operated by LAZ. That includes all five of the stations in Putnam County, where residents would see annual parking fees reach as high as $512 in Brewster.
Daily metered parking would increase by 50 to 75 cents, with the highest set at $6.50 for 16 hours at the Brewster station.
The Putnam County Legislature has written to MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye to request a delay to the increase until December 2020 public discussions and a subsequent board vote for the 2021 fare increase.
“We appreciate that the MTA has a budget problem and wants to solve it,” wrote Legislature Chairman Joseph Castellano to the MTA. “But doing it on the backs of our already burdened riders doesn’t seem fair nor in keeping with notion that the MTA is one system. We ask that you begin to think of the riders of Putnam County (and other counties at the further ends of the system) as equal members of this system and respect the limits of their abilities to pay to support this system.”
Neal Zuckerman, Putnam County’s representative to the MTA Board, said this parking fee increase would raise about $1 million – a drop in the bucket compared to the MTA’s budget deficit, which is expected to reach $1 billion in 2022. Increasing parking costs by 10 to 14 percent on Metro-North parking does nothing to solve the MTA’s existential problem, he said.
“I oppose any measure to further burden the riders who punitively pay by distance, versus the New York City riders who pay one fare to go any distance,” said Zuckerman. “It is time to have a discussion of fairly sharing the burdens across the system.”
Metro-North riders saw ticket fare increases of up to 4 percent in April 2019.