No matter what, a fare hike is comingBy
|Fare Type||Current||Proposal 1||Proposal 2||Ravitch 1||Ravitch 2|
|Bonus + Threshold||15% at $7||15% at $7||None||20% at $7||None|
|Bonus Per Ride||$1.74||$2.17||N/A||$1.88||N/A|
Various fare hike proposals from the MTA
What you are looking at above is the bad news. The MTA released on Monday a fare policy memo (PDF) from CFO Gary Dellaverson to the agency’s board detailing the various possible fare hikes.
To summarize, the first column on the left is the current fare structure. Following it are two proposals the MTA would consider under its so-called “Doomsday budget.” In those instances, the MTA is not relying on any sort of transit relief via the Ravitch proposal or any other idea that may come down the pike. Rather, on its own, the agency is searching for a way to generate what Dellaverson called “a 23% increase in yield from fares.”
The two columns on the right represent the fare hike if the Ravitch plan or some other form of relief is passed. Under those fare structures, the MTA would expect its rider to shoulder a fare hike of just eight percent. Both of these plans also involve raising rates on the MTA commuter rails and bridges and tunnels.
It’s hard to feel too good about either of these proposals because, no matter what, New Yorkers will suffer through two years in a row with fare hikes in 2009. No matter the outcome of the Ravitch proposal or the economy, no matter what happens with any potential stimulus plan, the MTA will raise the fares in 2009, and there is nothing anyone can do about it except grin and bear it.
With that in mind, I much prefer both Proposal 2 and Ravitch 2 over the other options for this inevitable fare hike. Simply put, these options reward frequent travelers as best as they can. In my opinion, the biggest mistake the MTA made when they raised fares in 2008 was in choosing to not raise the base fare. By keeping the standard fare at $2, infrequent riders got to enjoy a low fare while those who used the system most had to pay the most.
Now, I understand that we’ll all have to pay, but the fares should be raised in a way that generates enough revenue without negatively impacting the people most dependent on transit. Those people, in my book, are the ones who buy the Unlimited ride cards. Proposal 2 keeps the 30-day card under that psychological $100 barrier, and Ravitch 2 minimizes the increases across the board. That’s the way it should be.
As 2008 draws to a close tomorrow night, it hasn’t been a good year for the MTA. While Elliot Sander marked the agency’s 40th birthday with an ambitious eye toward the future, the year has ended with bad economic news, a hazy outlook for expansion and now a fare hike. Here’s to hoping 2009 will bring better subway news for New York City.