Quality service must follow MTA fare hikes


Christina Coleburn, Senior Editor

After a winter marred by limited service, excessive delays and other technical issues, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced a fare hike on March 22, the fifth in eight years. The base fare for buses and subways is now up 25 cents to $2.75 and monthly MetroCards increased by $4.50 to $116.50. Tolls for E-ZPass users at MTA tunnels and bridges went up 4 percent, while cash customers will now see a 6 to 10 percent hike. This fare increase comes during a time of palpable uncertainty over the MTA’s $15 billion budget deficit in a plan that proposes $32 billion in capital outlays from 2015 to 2019. The largest funding gap ever, the deficiency has been described as “a striking sign between what the system needs and what the authority can afford.” If customers are to bear the brunt via fare increases, the MTA owes it to them to improve the quality of the transportation system, particularly in light of subpar winter service.

An estimated 8.6 million people ride the MTA’s subway, buses and railroads every weekday. Despite being negatively affected by the fare increase, several acknowledged that they would have difficulty traveling to work otherwise. When interviewed by CBS New York, many said their dissatisfaction with the increases in part stemmed from their complaints with the quality of the subway system. These grievances are corroborated by the most recent MTA figures, which reveal a rise in train delays in 2014. Only about 74 percent of subway trains arrived at their terminals at the end of the line on schedule, a 6 percent decrease from last year. Furthermore, of the 13,000 delays in January, most were due to overcrowding. Only about 2,800 were due to
inclement weather.

As the MTA grapples with its funding gap, the organization must be subject to greater scrutiny. Although the MTA announced Monday that it would conduct an internal review to minimize delays, more must follow to ensure effective improvements. When implementing reforms. particularly in light of the reports that have documented mediocre
service, customer satisfaction and transparency must be a priority.

Customers are not merely complaining about paying
extra — they have legitimate grievances about MTA services and want to ensure that the fare hike is used to improve the quality of the system. Their complaints about the cosmetic appearances of the subway cars, the overflowing trains, excessive delays, signal issues and out-of-service trains should not fall on deaf ears. If customers are to dig
deeper into their wallets to pay the increased rates, the MTA should do its part to improve their
transit experience.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, March 25 print edition. Email Christina Coleburn at [email protected].