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Councilman blasts CDTA rate increase

Bethlehem Councilman Mark Hennessey called on the Capital District Transportation Authority to reconsider its plans to implement a two-step fare increase plan. The proposed fare increase would eventually raise base rates to $2.

Hennessey asked the CDTA board to reconsider the increase because of the unfair impact it has on those who can afford it the least.

He presented his testimony Thursday, Dec. 4, at the Albany Public Library, where other community members and Albany Common Council President Shawn Morris joined him.

Hennessey said he understood that CDTA costs were rising " with administrative and salary costs making up the bulk of the increase " but he believes a $2 fare would hurt the people who depend on the bus service the most.

He cited a 100 percent projected increase in field operations material and supplies and a 133 percent increase in travel and meetings, but said CDTA may be off on some of their cost projections.

"I also noticed in reviewing your budget that you anticipate a 29.6 percent increase year-to-year in fuel costs," said Hennessey. "I think that, looking at the current recession and precipitous drop in fuel prices " that could be a faulty projection. My suggestion in this case is to buy in to a new, long-term fuel contract which could save you significant money."

Hennessey said he also took issue with service expansion in Saratoga County while service was not improved in Albany. He said that CDTA implemented new bus lines services in Saratoga, in their words "significantly increasing service hours while providing a number of customer amenities."

"I am all for expanding service, but it seems to me that the real important issue that is not talked about is the need for enhancements to pre-existing routes. My constituents ride the No.18, 19 and 7 and they have not seen a correlated tripling of service, so as you raise fares to make sure that Saratogians can get around town, you are not doing the same for my constituents in Bethlehem," Hennessey said. "For my constituents and others who have been asking for improvements for years, this is simply scandalous."

Hennessey said he had heard from several constituents at the meeting and before about their concerns about a fare increase and it effect.

"For all these reasons, I ask respectfully, to please reconsider your decision," he said.""

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