Home Fare Hikes On being surprised by the fare hikes

On being surprised by the fare hikes

by Benjamin Kabak

There are enough words on this sign to make Polonius proud.

In eight days, the MTA is going to raise fares. They’re not eliminated the unlimited cards or capping the number of rides one may take in a seven- or 30-day period, and although you and I know this, not everyone in New York is aware of the impending change.

For a piece in amNew York, Theresa Juva tracked down straphangers who had no idea of the structure of the impending fare hike or, in some cases, that the fares were even going to go up. One person she interviewed still believed the rides would be capped. While it’s likely that Juva interviewed more than a few people who knew about the fare hike, that she found so many uninformed or misinformed New Yorkers speaks volumes. But about what?

On the one hand, it speaks volumes about the attention New Yorkers pay to the subways. By and large, they don’t pay any. They still think the MTA had two sets of books, and they’re largely ignorant and willfully so of the goings-on underground. Even though we all feel the effect of subway cuts and fare hikes, too many people fail to educate themselves. Furthermore, when the MTA tries to use its own signage space to communicate with writers, newspaper editorial boards turn those efforts into absurdly stupid controversies that shouldn’t be controversial at all.

But on the other hand, the failure is one of signage. Look at that fare hike sign. I found that one in Rockefeller Center as thousands of harried commuters rushed past, and it’s enough to make a graphics designer cry. The MTA has hung up signs that are chock full o’ words, and it’s impossible to discern info quickly and easily from the signs. The fare hike might be coming, but the inability to decipher signs on the go is a failure not of the public but of customer service.

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Jonathan December 22, 2010 - 11:37 am

I saw one of the fare-hike signs the other day located outside the turnstiles. Who has time to wait there and read it carefully? Better to post them in the trains or on the platforms.

Andrew December 22, 2010 - 9:12 pm

I don’t know about the trains, but I’ve seen them on buses. (The windows may not be large enough on trains.)

Andrew Sidrane December 22, 2010 - 12:35 pm

The media outlets need to do a better job of informing the riders. By and large, there is too much opinion and not enough fact that flows to the public.

Andrew December 22, 2010 - 9:15 pm

But that’s exactly the point. According to the article:

Unlike in the past when the MTA paid for ads in the media to publicize hikes, it’s now relying on signs in stations and buses, brochures, news reports, and its website.

In other words, amNew York thinks that it’s under no obligation to get the word out without payment!

SEAN December 22, 2010 - 12:37 pm

I wonder to what degree the press intentionally finds idiots to interview for what is a poor excuse for news today.

Marcus December 22, 2010 - 12:45 pm

Is that a serious question? This has long been journalistic practice. Usually the process is as follows

1. Decide what story you want to write.

2. Interview random people until you find someone who says what you need.

3. If step 2 fails, use selective editing to make it appear that they’re saying something they aren’t.

SEAN December 22, 2010 - 2:45 pm

Sarcasm my friend, sarcasm. I was thinking about the interview sene in the original “Scary Movie” where one of the kids remarks how they always find idiots to put in front of the camera, next sene KID SCREEMS “I AM ON TV! I AM ON TV! Hence my original comments above.

John December 22, 2010 - 12:49 pm

I don’t think the sign is that bad. “New Fare Information” is in big letters, so even if you don’t have the time to read the details, at least you should know that fares are changing. And if you want to know the details, it’s all there (I hope).

Nabe News: December 23 - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle December 22, 2010 - 1:19 pm

[…] for the next round of MTA fare hikes [Second Avenue […]

R. Graham December 22, 2010 - 3:06 pm

Ben you’re right! Allan Hevesi and the two sets of books stuff was like wrongfully convicting a man of rape. Even though his original sentence is reversed years later he is still treated like scum of the earth. Those allegations left their mark on the MTA. It will take generations to pass for before this stain finally fades away.

AK December 22, 2010 - 3:48 pm

I applaud Ben’s use of Shakespearian characters, particularly one known for asserting that “brevity is the soul of wit.” 🙂

Andrew December 22, 2010 - 9:31 pm

I’ll bet much of the verbiage on those signs is mandated by state law.

Lex A December 23, 2010 - 6:29 pm

And you know what, I was just talking about this with someone who is usually in a rush when they travel. We agreed that the signage may have been there but who notices unless they’re absolutely everywhere? And I just checked the website and found no new info on the fare page. The person I spoke to said the last she heard was that the unlimited card would have a capped number of rides, which we transit buffs know is not the case. The MTA imho dropped the ball big time. Not enough signage, esp on the buses and where were the press releases? I’ll be away all week, so let the sky fall and the angry comments ensue. Enjoy the Holiday Ben.


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