Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus met with senior management from Metro North today including Howard Permut, Senior Vice President of Planning, Development and Procurement and Randall Fleischer, Senior Director of Business Development. County Executive Steinhaus took the opportunity to express concern about Metro North’s proposed fare increase.
The County Executive noted he has made repeated requests for Metro North improvements in Dutchess County. “Metro North has been very responsive to those requests and Dutchess County has been the beneficiary of many major capital investments and improvements,” said Steinhaus. “We have seen Metro North make significant investments in Dover, Amenia, Pawling, Beacon, New Hamburg and Poughkeepsie.”
Some of the Metro North investments include more than $40 million at the Poughkeepsie station since the mid-1990’s for overpass improvements, extension of a canopy to the Main Street stairway and the new enclosed Main Street stairway completed this year. In Beacon, over $20 million has been invested to improve station access and expand parking. An intermodal plaza/drop off area was constructed featuring award-winning landscaping, seating and new bike racks. County Executive Steinhaus also noted he has a substantial list of improvements to be made in Dutchess County by Metro North in the coming years.
Metro North officials said there is a relationship between the substantial improvements made in Dutchess County and all along the Metro North lines and the proposed fare increase. Beginning in the mid-1990’s, both New York City and the State no longer contributed funds to the MTA’s capital plan, creating significant debt for Metro North. Officials noted the proposed fare increase is necessary to pay back the debt service. Officials added there will be public hearings for residents to discuss the proposed increase held in the fall and the final budget will be voted on in December.
The County Executive concluded the meeting by reiterating his concern for Metro North riders. “I recognize Metro North is experiencing increased costs as we all are, but I believe all other funding sources including New York City, the State and the federal government must be maximized before the riders are asked for substantial fare increases.”