How Eliot Spitzer saved the cars and tourists while nailing the rest of usBy
This afternoon, at 12 noon, the MTA will officially unveil its new fare plan during an online seminar. But, thanks to William Neuman and The New York Times, we already know what the new fare structure proposal will be, and as we guessed, everyday riders will bear the brunt of the increase. Thank you, Governor Spitzer.
Before getting to the proposal, let’s review: The MTA came under fire for its new fare hike plan seemingly from Day 1 in September. Comptrollers criticized the plans; MTA Board Members criticized the plan; the Straphangers criticized the plan. Then, in an effort to bolster his flagging image, New York’s Gov. Eliot Spitzer strongly urged the MTA to keep the base fare at $2 and scale the back the hikes. The MTA obliged, and now we’re all worse off. Well, all of us except the whopping 14 percent of subway riders who pay just $2 a ride.
So now, enter the new new fare hike proposal. Take it away, William Neuman:
Subway and bus riders who use monthly unlimited-ride MetroCards would be hit the hardest under a revised proposal to increase transit fares, which is to be announced today by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The cost of the monthly pass would rise to $81 from $76, a 6.6 percent increase, according to a memo sent to the authority’s board members yesterday. Bonus pay-per-ride MetroCards would also face increases under the new proposal. Also, an earlier proposal to offer discounts during off-peak hours is no longer being recommended, according to the memo…
Under the new proposal, the weekly unlimited-ride MetroCard would increase to $25, from $24, a 4.2 percent increase. Also, a 14-day MetroCard would be created, with a cost of $47. As part of the changes, the bonus on pay-per-ride MetroCards would fall to 15 percent, from 20 percent. But the amount of money needed to qualify for the bonus will also drop, to $7, from $10, the memo said.
You know what this means, right? Get ready to flex your math brains. For those pay-per-ride folks, buy a $20 MetroCard, get $3 more dollars. Those $23 cards really won’t come in handy at the end of its life. And forget about adding $7 more dollars; you’ll just end up with $8.05 instead, an utterly useless amount when it comes to the subway.
Meanwhile, it’s that Unlimited Ride increase that worries me. Sure, as the Monthly MetroCard Challenge shows, we’re all getting some pretty good deals with those cards, and I do like the addition of a 14-day Unlimited card. But while Spitzer made a good show of supposedly stopping the fare hike, the large faction of us using Unlimited Ride cards will now be shouldering more of the burden than we would have if the fare had risen to $2.25.
In the original plan, the Unlimited Ride cards were up for two different increases. The Peak/Off-Peak plan that was pretty much dead on arrival had the Unlimited cards heading to $81 for a month while the more traditional increase had those cards at $79. Now, the base fare — the fare used by one-off riders who don’t really enjoy all the benefits of the subway — will stay at $2, and Unlimited Ride MetroCards will go up by a whopping 6.6 percent, an increase even greater than that of the one planned for the bridge and tunnel crossings run by the MTA.
Once again, cars and tourists get the benefit of a reduced fare plan while residents relying on mass transit on a daily basis draw the short straw. Thanks for looking out for us, Gov. Spitzer. Appreciate it.
Personally, I’ve long expressed my support for a fare hike. Until Richard Brodsky makes good on his promise, reiterated once again in Neuman’s article, of more federal funds for the MTA, the agency has to shore up its financial future. But I can’t really get behind a plan that really nails the MTA’s most loyal customers while giving cars a sweet deal. We should be doing what we can to encourage mass transit use right now, and I’d rather see no fare hike than this shortsighted plan put forth by a pandering governor.