Assembly Member Joan Millman, testifying at an MTA public hearing Wednesday, accused the MTA of holding “sham” hearings because two were scheduled for the same time, one in Brooklyn and one in the Bronx. This, she said, “depriv[es] both boroughs of the opportunity to be heard by the full board.” It indicates, she said, that “these hearings are a sham and that the MTA does not care about its employees or the riding public.”
Millman described the closing of token booths and elimination of Station Customer Assistance (SCA) agents at some stations as “criminally negligent.” Concerning the High Street Station on the A and C lines, she said:
The layout of the High Street station, with entrances separated by a significant distance, makes it particularly unsettling and potentially dangerous for passengers if there is not a vigilant agent present. In fact, residents of the surrounding community report that prior to the introduction of SCA agents, they often felt unsafe entering and exiting the station and waiting on the platform for trains; when an agent is present, the station is safer. At one of the entrances, near 175 Adams Street, Concord Village hires a security guard during the holidays to maintain a constant presence in the station to provide an extra measure of protection for its residents who use this entrance. Given its proximity to the Brooklyn Bridge and the beautiful waterfront park we now have there, this station welcomes a large number of tourists who often need assistance from the SCA agents.
She then made a similar point concerning the Carroll Street station.
She addressed the question of additional funding for the MTA by noting that the state needed to increase its contribution. She also faulted the MTA for hanging on to unused buildings the sale or lease of which would bolster its coffers (“What is the MTA doing with 370 Jay Street?”, she asked, “Storing tokens?”), failing to get contributions from developers along the Fourth Avenue corridor, and selling its Atlantic Yards property in a “sweetheart deal” for less than half its appraised value. She advocated using some federal stimulus funds for MTA operating expenses rather than capital projects, and said the federal government had approved this, but the MTA had yet to agree.
As additional ways to generate funds for mass transit, Millman said, it is necessary to consider the imposition of tolls on the East River bridges, and the creation of a residential parking permit system. In conclusion, she said, “The MTA needs to do a better job of managing its finances before it looks to balance its books on the backs of hard-working New Yorkers.”