As the MTA’s finances have gone south, the authority has held the line on their preference for service cuts over fare hikes. Since the fares have gone up in each of the last two years and are scheduled to increase again in 2011, the agency is hesitant to use a fare increase as a fiscal band aid yet again this year.
“Throughout the situation,” Jay Walder, MTA CEO and Chairman, said, “it has been my intent to hold to that scheduled increase. I believe that having regularly scheduled increases is preferable to increasing fares and tolls in other circumstances, and we’re trying very much to stay in that mode.”
I’ve often wondered if Walder’s Moby Dick-like aversion to fare hikes is misguided. I’d rather pay more for the subway service we have than suffer through longer waits, more crowded trains and generally less convenient service. In a poll I conducted on site a few weeks ago, 78 percent of voters agreed. Still, the cuts are coming closer.
Yet, now the MTA faces a greater deficit than originally anticipated. By recent accounts, the authority is $750 million in the hole for 2010, and it is but only the end of February. Unless the economy turns around in a hurry, that financial picture will grow darker as the year goes on. “Our financial position is dire, Walder said yesterday. “I don’t think I can overstate that. Clearly I’d like to look at every avenue we can do for ways we can reduce our costs, ways that would be less painful for our customers and our employees.”