MTA puts public hearings on schedule
ahead of fare hike decisions
BY MARK HALLUM
With possible fare hikes on the
table for the cash-strapped
MTA’s 2021 budget, the agency
plans to hold a series of virtual hearings on
the matter in order to address the financial
crisis they are in due to COVID-19.
Six hearings, in all, will lead up to the December
board meeting, in which the MTA’s
board will be expected adopt a balanced
budget. MTA leaders are looking for public
engagement on what could be up to 4% increase
going into 2021 and could help them
shore up finances as massive deficits loom.
Along with a possible fare increase, the
MTA plans other measures to address its
budget gap: 40% service cuts on subways
and buses, a 50% service cut on commuters
railroads and a continued hold on the
$51 billion capital plan adopted in January.
“The MTA will begin the standard review
process for fare and toll adjustments,
although we recognize this year is anything
but standard, with a series of virtual public
hearings,” MTA Chairman Pat Foye said.
“With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,
we are committed to reviewing a wide
The MTA is considering fare hikes and is asking the public’s input at several
virtual hearings coming up in December.
variety of proposals and will work to
minimize the impact on our customers. The
MTA continues to face the worst financial
crisis in its history and the best way to avoid
these actions is for Congress to provide $12
billion in desperately needed funding.”
While best and worst case scenarios
were rolled out Wednesday, as well as
PHOTO BY TODD MAISEL
consideration for a $2.9 billion loan
from the federal reserve, the MTA
expects a $12 billion deficit by 2024 if
the federal government does not deliver
on financial support through a stimulus
The current projection for a $12 billion
deficit is a far cry from the expectations
last time the MTA held hearings on a fare
In December 2018, then-MTA Chairman
Joe Lhota put the wheels in motion to
cover a $1 billion deficit by 2022. Hearings
led by former New York City Transit President
Andy Byford were full of vitriol from
members of the public who felt paying more
for service that at the time was suffering
was not in their best interest.
This time around, the MTA is holding
out hope that Washington lawmakers in
the Senate will deliver another stimulus
reminiscent of the CARES Act, now
eight months in the rearview mirror and
the only such bill to pass in the ongoing
pandemic. President-elect Joe Biden represents
another glimmer of hope in January
The public can sign up for these virtual
hearings by following this link and dates
• Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 5:30 p.m.
• Thursday, Dec. 3, at 10 a.m.
• Monday, Dec. 7, at 5:30 p.m.
• Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 5:30 p.m.
• Monday, Dec. 14, at 5:30 p.m.
• Monday, Dec. 21, at 10 a.m.
Virus deniers rally in Union Square
as reality-based New Yorkers get tested
BY TODD MAISEL
As New Yorkers waited hours at
testing sites across the five boroughs
all week to get a COVID-19
exam, a small but vocal group of pandemic
deniers spent their Sunday, Nov. 22, in
Union Square railing against lockdowns,
mask-wearing and any other governmental
measure geared at stopping the spread of
a virus that’s killed more than 250,000
While most of the nation is waiting with
bated breath for the COVID-19 vaccination
from a variety of pharmaceutical companies,
it’s estimated that 40% of Americans
will not take it. A group of about 100
people who hold this view sought to
highlight their views and attacked media
organizations on baseless charges that their
side is being censored.
The rally was dubbed “Freedom, anti
lock-down and enlightenment rally and
march,” organized by Liberate New
York, an anti-vaccine, anti-mask and anti
lock-down group loosing organized to
A rally organized by Liberate New York spoke against wearing masks, social
distancing and were anti-lockdown for Covid-19 restrictions.
express these views in the face of science
and medical evidence that disputes their
Among those in attendance was Dr.
Karin Burkhard, an ardent anti-vaccination
advocate, NBC’s “The Biggest Loser”
PHOTO BY TODD MAISEL
trainer Cara Castronuova, and Heshy
Tischler, an anti-mask and anti social
distancing advocate from Brooklyn.
“I cannot stand when they say New York
tough is wearing a mask and social distancing
– that’s not tough,” Castrounouva said
as about 100 maskless supporters cheered.
“That is not the New York I know – this
crowd is the New York I know.”
She then bashed Governor Cuomo and
started chanting “kick Cuomo out,” and
then gave Mayor Bill de Blasio a Bronx
cheer saying “he’s the worst mayor in the
history of this city.”
Dr. Karin Burkhard, an anti-vaccer and
child psychologist, said she wouldn’t wear
a mask nor socially distance, claiming it
wasn’t necessary. She alleged that vaccines
are “causing an autism epidemic in
children” — though that allegation has
been thoroughly debunked by numerous
organizations, including the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention.
“We are over vaccinating and destroying
an entire generation,” Burkhard charged.
After some theater of the absurd, in
which actors played out the beginning of
the pandemic and called it a fraud, the pandemic
deniers marched down LaGuardia
Place to Washington Square Park to the
fountains to further spread the false claim
that masks are no good.
14 November 26, 2020 Schneps Media