While the Daily News may have scooped the rest of the New York papers with the news on the MTA’s planned extensive service cuts, The Times one-upped the tabloid today. The Gray Lady’s got the fare information, and it ain’t pretty
William Neuman details the planned fare hikes that will compliment the service reductions. While Neuman doesn’t mention the reported $3 base fare, he tosses around a 23 percent fare hike across the board. Yikes.
Anyway, the details:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will seek to increase fare and toll revenues by 23 percent next year to plug a yawning budget gap, according to a person briefed on the plan…The result is straightforward and grim: Many riders will have to pay more to wait longer for trains and buses that are more crowded.
The fare and toll increase is intended to raise about $600 million next year, about half of the $1.2 billion deficit projected for next year. The increase would go into effect in June or July.
The authority will outline the budget proposals at a meeting of its board on Thursday, but officials said they had not yet worked out details of how the changes would affect different types of MetroCard fares on subways and buses, as well as fares on the commuter railroads.
It appears likely, however, that the base subway and bus fare would increase to at least $2.50, from $2, and that a monthly unlimited-ride MetroCard could rise to about $100.
I’ll be unveiling a second iteration of last year’s MetroCard Challenge later today to see how this move will impact me (and hopefully you, the user of a 30-day Unlimited Ride MetroCard). Needless to say, while the average price per ride will remain a good deal, no one will be happy about having to fork over $100 for a MetroCard while suffering through potential decreases in service.
For now, we can’t do much to assess this news. The MTA officials haven’t yet hammered out the details of a fare hike. But it is likely that users of the heavily-discounted Unlimited Ride cards will face steep increases as will bridge-and-tunnel users and pay-per-ride MetroCard swipes.
What this latest development ensures is that it will get ugly before it gets better. Already, the TV news stations are cornering disgruntled passengers who seem too willing to blame the MTA instead of elected officials who continue to withhold funding for the MTA. It’s time to reframe that debate and hold the officials who control the purse strings responsible for this mess.
Furthermore, the MTA seems to project the fare hikes to cover just half of the projected 2009 deficit. The other half will have to come from somewhere. Can service cuts and personnel decisions cover the rest? We’ll find out on Thursday.