What’s in The Daily News? I’ll tell you what’s in The Daily News. A story about the MTA blaming the MetroCard Vending Machines for what otherwise would have been a smaller fare hike. That’s what in The Daily News.
My apologies to all of those fans of Guys and Dolls out there, but seriously. The MTA is saying that a flaw in the way the MetroCard Vending Machines are programmed is one of the leading reasons why the 2008 fare hike is set to a quarter instead of just 10 cents. That, ladies and gentlemen, may be a first.
Pete Donohue, transit writer for The Daily News, has more:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority acknowledged yesterday that one BIG reason it wants a 25-cent bus and subway hike is because its vending machines can dispense only dollar coins and quarters.
MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin defended the increase as fair and said upping it by a nickel or dime wouldn’t be enough. “The limitations of technology would make a $2.10 fare extremely costly to implement and would provide a much poorer quality of service,” Soffin said.
Oof. This may go under that ever-special category of Things You Keep to Yourself. Subway guru and Straphanger lawyer Gene Russianoff was outraged for the lot of us. “It’s not acceptable for them to say, ‘The machines are making us do it,'” he said to Donohue. “What are they going to [do] if next time they think there should be a 35-cent hike? Round it off to 50 cents and make us pay?”
In response to this spate of bad publicity, the MTA announced that they are looking at technological alternatives to the current vending machines. Considering that only 14 percent of subway riders pay in case, searching for something that doesn’t rip off everyone would probably be a good solution here. The MTA is also considering some sort of card for low-income subway riders, but the Authority refused to discuss any details whatsoever of those mysterious program. Maybe they should just step on it with those plans to adopt Smart Card technology.
In other fare hike news — and I use that term loosely because anyone reading Second Ave. Sagas won’t be too surprised by this information — New York newspapers are making a big stink over the fact that the MTA has plans to raise the fares in 2010. For as long as the MTA has debated this upcoming fare hike, MTA CEO Elliot “Lee” Sander has repeated warned the public that the Authority prefers and would pursue two smaller fare hikes in 2008 and 2010 instead of one larger fare hike when the MTA’s financial picture became too dire.
As the public becomes more aware of this looming fare hike and its long-term ramifications, people are going to get more annoyed at the MTA. Just you wait.