2007_11_mtahearin.jpgTonight, the MTA will hold public hearings in Long Island and Queens about the proposed fare and toll hikes. And if Monday night's hearing in Brooklyn is any indication, things will probably be rollicking. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz earned applause when he said, "Ladies and gentleman, fuhgeddaboutit!" (the Post reported the agency reaction: "MTA board members sat stone-faced") while the Straphangers Campaign's Gene Russianoff brought a life-size cut-out of Governor Spitzer.

Markowitz and Russianoff had been handing out leaflets asking riders to tell Governor Spitzer "What You Think Of A Fare Hike" - and the leaflet offered these stats: "In 2005, riders paid 55 percent of the costs of running the subways and buses. Metro-North riders pay 51 percent and LIRR riders pay 47 percent. But riders in other cities pay much less. The national average for the top 50 transit systems is 37 percent. In Boston, it is 29 percent, Chicago 43 percent and Philadelphia 37 percent."

Today, Russianoff tells the Daily News that the city should be pitching in more money to the MTA, "The city needs to up its very limited funding for the subways and buses system that makes our economy possible." NYC only contributed 4% of the MTA's $5.7 billion budget - about $250 million. And while the Mayor's office says that the city will being donating hundreds of millions through congestion pricing, other critics say waiting until 2010 for that money is ridiculous, especially when it's unclear whether congestion pricing will stick.

Tomorrow night, the public hearing on fare and toll hikes will take place in Manhattan.

Photograph of a poster for the fare and toll hearings by nicknormal on Flickr; nicknormal points out that the posters only appeared at the subway station this past weekend, a day before the meetings were scheduled to start