Brooklyn residents sound off at MTA public hearing

Hundreds of Brooklyn residents attended a public hearing Wednesday evening to voice their opinions on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority?s controversial budget plan.Straphangers greeted the MTA

BROOKLYN - Hundreds of Brooklyn residents attended a public hearing Wednesday evening to voice their opinions on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority?s controversial budget plan.

Straphangers greeted the MTA panel with boos as they entered a conference room at the Marriott hotel in Downtown Brooklyn. Under the proposed plan, fares will be raised to $2.50 or $3.00 a ride, and straphangers who buy 30-day unlimited Metrocards will have to shell out more than $100. In addition to fare hikes, the MTA plans to cut service on several bus lines in Brooklyn in an effort to close the agency?s budget gap that currently amounts to more than $1 billion.

Many local riders, however, are not convinced that fare increases and service cuts are the way to go.

?On days like these, it?s already hard enough to get transportation, and with the slashing of the service, you?re trying to get somewhere on time, and it?s almost impossible,? says Juan Ortiz.

Several Brooklyn officials attended Wednesday?s hearing and tried to persuade the board to consider alternatives. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz introduced a proposal to sell the building at 370 Jay St. and use the revenue from the sale to help close the budget gap. According to the MTA chairman, however, the MTA needs the space.

If the MTA?s plan is approved, residents could see fare hikes as early as this spring.

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