Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) An emotional Tarik Abdelazim, running for Broome County Executive, said the proposed bus fare increases in the 2013 County Budget are reckless and unfair.
On Monday afternoon, at the Broome County Transit Center, Abdelazim said he was shocked when he found out about the numbers proposed by Broome County Executive Debbie Preston.
The Democrat executive candidate said the proposed increases raise a single ride pass from a $1.50 to $2.00 for most riders during peak hours.
It also eliminates the 31-day unlimited ride pass which currently costs $52.50, or $33 for seniors, students and people with disabilities, and replaces it with 10, 20, or 30 ride pass packages.
Abdelazim said the jump could mean a three-fold increase for those who regularly ride the bus.
The candidate actually teared up during the press conference, saying he feels for those who could be affected if the proposal is approved.
"This is about having the decency to recognize that these changes have profound and harmful impacts on some of them more vulnerable members of our community," said Abdelazim. "So I'm calling on the Republican-led legislature to address this problem with a lot more compassion, competence, and fairness than our county executive ."
Behind Abdelazim stood a dozen bus riders who shared their personal concerns.
"It is a significant raise, when people are on fixed income," said Euphemia Martin. "Most people are out of work right now and my interns, who are students, right now cannot afford it."
In response, Debbie Preston's campaign manager Bijoy Datta issued a statement.
"We listened to the people by holding two public hearings, meeting with community groups like the Southern Tier Independence Center and Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier, and meeting with numerous affected constituents at Debbie's Open Office Hours. A small fare increase is a reasonable approach to addressing the ballooning costs of the BC Transit system, which are happening due to an aging bus fleet, rising fuel prices, and skyrocketing contractual obligations."
He also said Preston has restored many routes and that this press conference is another example of Abdelazim's negative and misleading campaign efforts.