$2 a ride

July 16, 2003

The Appellate Division issued its ruling in the Straphangers v. MTA lawsuit. The ruling upholds the fare increase, reverses the rulings from the Supreme Court and dismisses the petition.

In a unanimous decision, a five-judge panel ruled that the MTA fulfilled its statutory duty to notify the public about its financial situation before implementing a fare hike. Although the projected deficit figures were vaguer and more misleading than the public would prefer, the court finds that the MTA's disclosure met the statutory requirements (NY PAL 1205[7]; 1263[9]). The statute requires only that the notice of hearing include "the range of amounts of fare changes under consideration" and a "clear graphic illustration depicting the nature of any closing for such station," so the court rules that the MTA went above and beyond its requirements by including information about a projected deficit. "The level of disclosure that a governmental agency must meet is a legislative, not a judicial, decision."

The court goes on to find that the MTA records were not "fictional." Even though the MTA's request for a fare increase was based on combined 2003 & 2004 financial projections, such notice was neither "fictional" nor otherwise "false and misleading." Even in the Hevesi report, the MTA faced a projected deficit of over $2 billion for 2003 and 2004 combined. The MTA is not required to base its finances on a single-year basis. Even if it did, fare increases would still be necessary by 2004.

As far as the bridge and tunnel tolls, the court finds that the TBTA has no obligation to provide notice or hold hearings before increasing tolls.

Posted by Andrew Raff at July 16, 2003 06:37 PM
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