Last week, the Metropolitan Transit Authority proposed to raise the local bus and train fares. The proposal includes four possible plans that could bring in about $450 million in additional revenue to fill the MTA’s budget deficits.
Two of the proposals would increase the base MetroCard fare to $2.50 and raise the monthly unlimited MetroCard to $109 or $112. The other two propose to leave the base fare at $2.25 and increase the monthly unlimited MetroCard to either $119 or $125. Each proposal also includes an additional $1 fee for every new MetroCard. Also, each of the proposals include an increase of 8.2 to 9.3 percent in the price of the rides of the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad.
The MTA already attempted to ease their debt by putting advertisements on MetroCards. MTA media liaison Aaron Donovan stated that even though the advertising revenue has helped, these increases in fares are also necessary.
“Advertising on MetroCards, while untested, is expected to provide a small fraction of the revenue we receive from traditional forms of advertising,” Donovan said.
MTA chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota elaborated on why these increases are necessary.
“Costs that the MTA does not exercise control over, namely those for debt service, pensions, energy, paratransit, and employee and retiree health care, continue to increase beyond the rate of inflation.”
The public is not pleased with these proposals. A New York City-based transit interest group, the Straphangers, proposed their own plan to help the MTA with their deficits in a press statement.
“Blocking or reducing the fare increase is possible, if we get more help from Albany,” said Gene Russian of the Straphangers campaign. “One promising plan is to generate new revenue by both raising and lowering tolls on city bridges and tunnels in line with where there is the most and least congestion.”
Lhota said the MTA will not exclude the public from this fare increase process.
“In the spirit of transparency, the public will assist in shaping our fare policy,” Lhota said. “Feedback evaluating the specific alternatives we’ve put forward is particularly useful, but we value all our customers’ input, and we’ll consider changes to our proposals based on what we hear and read.”
NYU commuters were not pleased with these proposals either, but were hopeful about the outcome.
“I’m just hoping that they leave the regular fare the same because I usually don’t buy the monthly passes,” said CAS sophomore Jessie Somberg. “I made my internship so that I only have to travel there once a week.”
Talia Delgado, a graduate student in the Silver School of Social Work, is not in favor of raising fares. However, if there is a raise, Delgado said she would rather the base fare increase and leave the monthly pass at the same price.
“I think raising the fares is ridiculous because the state of the trains and the train service is disgusting. The trains are dirty, they are not on time, and there is always track work, so it’s preventing people from getting where they need to be in a timely fashion,” Delgado said. “I would consider raising the base fare and then just raise the monthly not as much because it benefits me. I think most people that live in [New York City] take the monthly anyway.”
The proposals will be subject to modification after the public review process and will be considered for implementation by the MTA Board at its Dec. 19 meeting. The new fare rates would go into effect on or around March 1, 2013.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 23 print edition. Tanay Hudson is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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