Fare Hike ’13: Picking your poison

By · Published in 2012

There’s a fare hike heading our way, and absent a miracle in Albany, there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it. The Straphangers have rightly pleaded with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to do something, and The Times did the same in Saturday’s paper. This growing chorus of voices calling for more state support may be able to avert a steep hike in 2015, but there’s not enough time for the notoriously slow-moving state political machine to kick in gear before the MTA has to start generating more revenue.

So we, the riding public, are left with trying to make the best of a bad situation. On Monday morning, the MTA will officially unveil the various proposals all aimed at generating a few hundred million dollars a year more, and throughout November, the authority will hear public feedback. Oftentimes, those meetings devolve into a mess of public complaints against the MTA and little of substance concerning the fare hike proposals. But there’s a lot riding on this year’s hike. (Ed. Note: The four scenarios outlined below are confirmed as the ones under consideration by the MTA. Public hearings will take place during the second week in November.)

As I’ve mentioned before, how the MTA approaches this hike will tell us a lot about who’s paying more. Will the MTA once again go after unlimited ride card users or try to bump up the pay-per-ride costs? I looked at this issue last week, and it’s not an easy one. The claims that a pay-per-ride bump would negatively impact those who can least afford to pay are partially borne out by demographics numbers, but even that impact may be overstated. Still, it’s a consideration.

As we wait out the official announcement, enough leaked stories — designed to gauge rider feedback — have led us to know something about the looming fare hike. So from information gleaned from various articles, let’s look at the competing proposals:

Scenario Base Fare Bonus 7-Day Card 30-Day Card
1 $2.50 None $30 $109
2 $2.25 5% $34 $125
3 $2.25 None $32 $119
4 $2.50 7% $30 $112

As I’ve mentioned before, I’d prefer scenario 1, but that’s because I’m a 30-day card user who enjoys the benefits of pre-tax Metrocards each month. According to numbers provided to me by the Straphangers, such a scenario results in a $60 annual increase in transit spending for 30-day card users, a $50 bump for 7-day card users and a whopping $208 increase for pay-per-ride users. That’s a disparate impact if ever I saw one.

Scenarios 2 and 3 lead to considerably more spending by everyone. Under 2, 30-day users would be on the hook for over $200 more per year, and the break-even point would jump to 59 rides, an all-time high. With no increase in the base fare and a small decrease in bonus, pay-per-ride users would likely have to spend around $20 more per year. That’s hardly equitable either.

The new proposal — Scenario No. 4 above — comes to us from today’s Daily News. In his piece, Pete Donohue notes that MTA officials are not likely to eliminated the discount, as, per one Transit official, “the reaction [was] very cool.” With a seven percent bonus at $2.50 per swipe, the effective fare would be around $2.32, and thus, under proposal 4, the break-even point for a $112 30-day card would be 49 rides, one less than the current 50-ride mark on the $104 cards. Signs are, as Donohue notes, pointing the way toward such a scenario.

But let’s toss this one wide open. Though no one wants a fare hike, pick your poison. I’ve opened the poll below and am curious to see how SAS readers would go if given the choice. It might not be ideal, but that’s where we are today.

Which fare hike proposal would you prefer?
View Results

Categories : Fare Hikes

80 Responses to “Fare Hike ’13: Picking your poison”

  1. David says:

    Don’t forget to factor in the $1 metro-card “eco” fee. How does that affect monthly passes, etc?

  2. Nathanael says:

    I’d prefer distance-based fares — NYC is really seriously overdue for them — but the Metrocard system wasn’t set up for “swipe in, swipe out”.

    A bad oversight during the original deployment. London’s equivalent deployment (way back in — gee, I don’t know when) had swipe in, swipe out.

    • Bolwerk says:

      With narrow staircases and lousy exits, the NYC Subway system wasn’t set up for them period, and the expense required to change that just seems ungodly.

      Going by a cursory glance, approximately “modern” fare collection on the London Underground seems relatively recent. Heavy staffing was necessary to achieve distance-based fares, using the same labor-intensive collection used by mainline railroads, which New York (wisely, at the time) avoided.

      Then again, we seem to find other ways to overstaff….

      • It wasn’t wise, it was politics. Voters and politicians were wedded to the 5 cent fare, and it was written into the franchise agreements for the various els and subways. Obviously the railroads weren’t going to charge less than five cents, so voilà – the flat fare that we all know and love (/hate) today.

        • Bolwerk says:

          It was a smart, or at least not dumb, move at the time to avoid that kind of overhead. I agree that obliging the franchisees to charge a flat, immutable fare was political, but I think the key point is more that it was immutable than that it was flat.

          I don’t especially love it or hate it, but it is what it is and talk of distance-based fares is about as good as talk of an IND 2.0 run by maglevs. It ain’t happening. Distance-based fares as we know them weren’t possible until the 1970s or so, and many systems built before then have design constraints that preclude them.

          • Nathanael says:

            The London zone system was introduced in 1981. Yes, “relatively recent” in the grand sweep of history, but older than the goddamn Metrocard. I believe that they had the advantage that they had not had flat fares *before* that.

            • Bolwerk says:

              ‘Tis true. That was the point. Apparently they had a massive payroll in place to check tickets and stuff.

              Again, New York wisely avoided that early on.

      • John says:

        Yes, as New York has and always will push its poorer folk further and further toward the outer edges of the city, this makes sense…

        • Bolwerk says:

          I think it’s more of a mixed bag than that. Some people moved away from cramped inner city tenements to airier streetcar suburbs. Places like Riverdale and whatever suburbs there are in eastern Queens are hardly homes for the city’s poorest.

          • John says:

            This is certainly true and something I thought of post-post. But a distance based system would, of course, not take into consideration places such as South Jamaica, the South Bronx, and the enormous NYCHA complexes in Far Rockaway and Coney Island, that are obviously much more distant from the urban center than the wealthiest Manhattan neighborhoods are.

            • Bolwerk says:

              I agree. FWIW, I don’t personally favor a distance-based system anyway, but I’d find it acceptable if it were fair.

              That said, it’s almost not worth discussing. It’s technically daunting to implement, probably at least as troublesome as meeting ADA compliance requirements in every station.

            • Andrew says:

              The way to solve that problem is to give transit vouchers to the poor. Assuming that short-distance riders are all wealthy and that long-distance riders are all poor is silly – then the short-distance poor riders end up subsidizing the long-distance wealthy riders!

      • Roy says:

        To be fair, a lot of LU stations are just as cramped as NYC Subway ones, I believe there are a handful of LU stations that still haven’t been gsted as there’s no space to put them. Most of the gating was done a long time ago though, starting in the late 80s using card magstripe tickets. Oyster was overlaid on top of it.

        The gating didn’t completely reduce staffing either – ‘Elf and Safety requires all closed gatelines to be monitored by a member of staff. This does give a staff saving as that one member can oversee more exits than the number of staff required to physically check and collect tickets as before, but it isn’t a complete elimination of staff.

    • Henry says:

      The thing about the flat fare is that it makes it easy to manage bus-subway transfers and bus-bus transfers. The buses would still have to be flat fare, unless one wanted to get into the business of breaking up bus routes or stopping buses at zone boundaries to collect fares once again.

      This problem is reduced if you set up the borough boundaries as the fare zones, but even that is problematic – it penalizes those already using the non-subway inter-borough links, and brings in the debate that killed congestion pricing – that the city is trying to stick it to the little guy who lives in the outer boroughs, rather than the millionaires who live in the UES. This is an incorrect view, but it’ll come up if anything zone-based is implemented.

      • Bolwerk says:

        CP does endlessly more good for the city than variable/zoned subway fares anyway. If we’re going to be anti-subsidy ideologues, we should at least admit that subsidizing the more harmful mode is stupider than subsidizing the more beneficial mode.

        But, why do buses necessitate a flat fare? I can see why it would be tricky to implement a variable fare without offboard collection, I guess, but these days that seems fairly doable.

        Speaking of which, what does London do? Are all its buses doing off-board collection now? If there is one major European city that might over-use buses to a similar extent as New York, I guess it’s them.

        • WMATA Rage says:

          Not sure of what London’s doing this very moment, but I lived there 2009-2010 and all bus collection was still onboard. This was also before the newly-revived Routemasters, so still only one entrance on each bus. But I never found the wait/dwell time very onerous.

          I actually took the bus more than I did the Underground. Faster, better views, actual air conditioning, space, good headways…what wasn’t to like?

          • Roy says:

            For a few years London had off-bus collection in the city centre, with SBS-style sidewalk ticket machines. This was in conjunction with widespread use of multi-entrance articulated buses (“bendibuses”) which were all off-bus collection or Oyster. The current mayor ran on a platform of eliminating the bendis and they have now all gone. TfL have recently started to remove the curb-side ticket machines as they say the proportion of Oyster usage is now so high that the small number of cash-fare users is no longer slowing boarding times enough to justify the elimination of on-bus collection.

            London buses are now flat-fare with a single fare and fare zone for the whole of Greater London, and this has been the case since at least the 90s I think. Before that there were fare zones, but they got progressively bigger and fewer in number over the years as policing over-riding was so difficult. Distant-based fares pretty much went out in the 70s with the elimination of conductors in favour of driver-only operation on most routes, and almost all suburban ones.

            • Kai B says:

              The single fare zone for buses but not for trains causes the interesting phenomenon that people will take a bus with the same route as the underground to save money. When I visited a friend last summer it was somewhere around half the price to go from Camden Town (outer borough) to somewhere in the city via bus than via “tube”.

              • Bolwerk says:

                It’s bizarre, since buses are presumably significantly more costly to operate.

                Of course, they’re probably in lower demand too, so maybe it’s good to just get some people on them.

                • Henry says:

                  Well, from what I hear, the Tube is already ridiculously crowded on certain sections, so anything that provides extra capacity is welcome.

                  • Nathanael says:

                    Yep. The central sections of the Tube are sardine cans during peak hours already, and London Transport has to make some stations “exit-only” at certain times to avoid fire hazards. So they’re happy to push people to the buses.

                  • WMATA Rage says:

                    Oh yeah, that’s why I stopped using the Central Line for anything at all unless I really, really had to. Hot, crowded, and low (I’m 6′ 8″ so that was a big concern) – the buses had none of these problems and were at least as frequent if not more so.

                • Andrew says:

                  They’re more costly to operate, but on the capital side it’s much much cheaper to buy some buses than to build a new rail line if your existing rail lines are full or don’t go where you need them to go.

                  • Bolwerk says:

                    Perhaps, but that extra capital cost is probably something that is more than made up for in reduced operating costs in many cases.

                    Either way, here we’re talking about a situation where the rail has existed for decades, so there is no building new rail lines. Probably for the reason I said above, they are charging less to get people to use the more expensive but more undesirable mode.

        • Henry says:

          With most fare-zone based systems, you have to swipe in and out. There’s no room for a second farebox, and sending everyone up to the front to get off would raise issues. I guess these would be obviated by the Metrocard replacement, since card readers are the size of a smartphone (or smaller), but right now this is the most pressing issue.

          Having onboard cash payment without POP would be a nightmare, especially with “exact change only”: people would fumble around for the right amount of change.

          Having offboard payment with POP would also be a nightmare, because unless the MTA steps up hiring (and with the pension it would have to pay, it probably won’t) and hires a legion of fare inspectors, nothing will stop anyone from buying the cheapest zoned fare and using that. The other problem is that for POP to be effective, there need to be ticket machines at most stops for cash riders (who still make up a sizeable amount of ridership), and I’ve heard that the SBS ticket machines sometimes run out of ticket paper. This would be disastrous in a citywide implementation.

          Hong Kong does something where the fare is high at the end of the route but ticks down as the route goes on, but its routes are strictly feeder routes. The NYC bus system has a more significant amount of transfers, so that would be tricky too.

          Finally, if we want to keep that bus-subway transfer that’s been driving ridership growth for a while, zone-based will not work, because buses don’t really have a way to tell the Metrocard what “zone” they would be in.

          Also, out of complete curiosity, what is CP?

          • J B Taipei says:

            Isn’t the point of POP that you don’t need too many fair inspectors, since penalties are so high that no one wants to get caught?
            Warsaw had an interesting (albeit somewhat confusing) system where you bought multimodal tickets that were valid for a certain period of time- IIRC you could buy them on or off buses and trams, as well as in subway stations. The inspectors had a portable reader that would scan the ticket to determine how much time remained. Perhaps this is something that could work in New York.

            • Henry says:

              New York City and Warsaw are two different places. I would say it’s safe to say that New York would probably be more prone to fare-beating (probably within acceptable levels). The sheer size of the system also makes implementing POP difficult – I’m not exactly sure how fare inspectors could walk through crowded buses.

              If the SBS POP system is any indication of what MTA-style POP would be like, we’d probably see a lot of broken offboard payment machines, and people would have their commutes lengthened because the fare inspectors can’t be bothered to inspect fares on a moving bus.

              The Metrocard sort of works like that with the two-hour free transfer policy, and I would personally support an expansion of this policy such that all transfers within two hours would be covered, provided that they controlled for subway-subway transfers and same-bus transfers.

              • J B Taipei says:

                I brought up Warsaw more for its time-based standards rather than POP. Isn’t POP also used in many large cities in Europe though? Granted MTA’s implementation has been less than ideal, but that can be improved; just the fact that they were willing to try POP shows that it is possible for the MTA to improve. The MTA’s track record for incompetence doesn’t mean we should just give up.

        • Henry says:

          Just realized what CP was. I’d like to clarify that I do agree with the concept of CP, even though as a resident of the outer boroughs, I’m stereotyped as disliking it immensely.
          I brought it up only because CP led to Manhattan vs. us arguments, and it is almost certain that zoned fares would lead to the same arguments, except possibly more heated.

          • Bolwerk says:

            I guess, but typically people who bring up such arguments in regard to services pricing are putting up a smokescreen (I don’t like it, so it’s bad for everyone).

            Anyway, it patently benefits the boroughs. Lower traffic, fewer emissions, faster trips to Manhattan when a trip to Manhattan is needed? It’s worth $8 or $18 or probably even $38 in some cases.

            To be against it, your time has to be worth less to you than the fee.

  3. Bolwerk says:

    I think all those options are bad, and the media and many “advocates” (still not sure whether Russianoff is on a false flag campaign against the transit system, but that’s another rant) are just throwing numbers around without thinking them through. How about an option that recognizes what people need and do, and what the system needs to do, rather than at best playing off the mathematics of previous farecards?

    A core need is getting to work. Offer a commuter special at $38.50, which brings the base fare up to $2.75 ($2.75/week × 14 trips/week = $38.50) and throw in two full free round trips ($5.50/round trip × 2) for a perceived “value” of $49.50. Most people are not going to make double rush hour trips, so they get a ride to/from work plus some convenient off-peak trips. Base fare that way: roughly $2.14/trip, up from $2.10, but the bonus rides are at least likely to be nudged to off-peak times.*

    If primarily off-peak users take advantage of the deal, no biggie. However, every farecard buyer who doesn’t front load their spending that way is stuck with a $2.75 fare, comparable to a transit system in western Europe, which is probably more in line with the collection costs and risks of fares over passes anyway. Yes, that means no bonus if you don’t buy a week’s worth of trips, but if you buy a week’s worth the bonus looks pretty good: about 14%.

    7-day passes should be priced a little higher, in the low $40 range, and the monthlies can be bumped a little from where they are now, with the goal in mind that some people who might buy monthlies to save on the hassle might not use them fully.

    * Of course, under the current regime they can be saved for next week. That can be changed so they are actively forced to off-peak times; it may require reprogramming the TVMs, but they could make sure the bonus is used within seven days – that is, the card is zero-balanced – or any remaining bonus expires, preferably as part of a future increase.

  4. Bolwerk says:

    One more suggestion (an ode to Larry Littlefield): how about slashing half the discount for being a senior? That’s the generation that got us into this mess, afterall!

    • AK says:

      The fact that half-priced senior Metrocards aren’t means-tested is odd, though given that senior discounts proliferate throughout the marketplace, it may be even more strange to require proof of income.

    • Larry Littlefield says:

      I believe that half fares for seniors during off peak hours are required by the federal government for transit agencies receiving federal financing.

      Having the half fare in place all the time was introduced by Pataki, who disguised the defunding of the system by handing out goodies (before 2002) and borrowing the difference. Got re-elected twice. And then when the bills came due, he became very unpopular.


  5. Anon256 says:

    There should be a higher cost for using the metrocard vending machines but a discount for users of easyPayExpress auto-refilling metrocards to help the MTA save on machine maintenance.

  6. Henry says:

    I’d like to mention that a Single Ride Metrocard is already $2.50 at a Metrocard TVM. Is that changing?

    Also, as uneven as the pain in Scenario 1 would be, I’d have to go with that. To gain a $2.50 ride through the 7% discount, you’d need to spend at least $35. If you’re doing something like that occasionally, then that’s fine. If this is an expense that occurs so frequently, it incurs $208 in additional costs a year, you might as well buy a 7-day pass for $30.

  7. Avi says:

    How about option 5:
    Base Fare = $3
    Bonus = 25%
    7D Card = $34
    30D Card = $120

    The 30 day breakeven point drops to 50 rides even. The pay per ride cost is an even $2.40 after discount, but the cost is paid by tourists who are paying the cash fare instead of commuters buying the discount. I’d let the discount start at $12 also, so you’d pay for 4 rides and get a 5th “free”.

  8. Larry Littlefield says:

    “There’s a fare hike heading our way, and absent a miracle in Albany, there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it.”

    And there is nothing anyone should do to stop it. We have to accept that with tax dollars going to past debts and retirement benefits, those who are not willing to pay for “public services” will not have them. These days people even have to “donate” to public schools to get their kids an education, and to parks to have the lawn mowed.

    It stinks, but short bankruptcy, or ramping up that estate tax to 100 percent on the rich and slashing the retirement benefits of those fotunate enough (or powerful enought at the expense of others) to have them, we’re being left with a mess.

    If the subway covered its real operating costs (not including debts and deferred pension contributions in excess of 20% of payroll), though higher fares and more efficiency wrung out of the employees, would that be a good thing or a bad thing. I say a good thing. We don’t want to be dependent on Albany.

    • Larry Littlefield says:

      As for your specific question, I would keep all the fares the same. But in place of a “bonus,” I’d impose a “sins of the past surcharge.”

      To cover the cost of debt service, and the cost of pension contributions in excess of 15% of payroll (which is what I calculate the pension recent and soon to be retirees would have cost had their been no retroactive enhancements and if that amount had been put in all along).

  9. Larry Littlefield says:

    One more point about the transit fare. Total operating and capital spending on transportation by New York City Transit and part of the Port Authority in FY 2010, according to the Governments Division of the U.S. Census Bureau, equaled 2.8% of the personal income of NYC residents in 2010. This isn’t fares. It is the total cost of transportation.

    That figure does not include pension contributions or interest on debts.

    In 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statisitics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey, the average American household spent about 13% of its income buying, financing, insuring, fueling and repairing their own motor vehicles.

    That’s 2.8% vs. about 13%, if mass transit means you can get by without a car.

    You can read all about this in my latest Room Eight post, except that Room Eight seems to be collapsing and is down most of the time.

  10. crescent22 says:

    The break-even has to come down from its current 50- I believe that is a high since the Metrocard was introduced.

    Unless it was some sort of policy to raise it permanently to put more burden on daily commuters, then it’s only sensical to send it back down toward 45.

  11. BrooklynBus says:

    No one should have to pay double fare for riding relatively short distances just because three buses or two buses and a train are required. In Chicago, the first transfer costs a quarter (unless it is within he el/subway system) but the second transfer is free. Unlimited riding for two hours should be allowed. That would stimulate more additional ridership and revenue than would be lost by riders making round trips for one fare which can be done anyway in some cases.

    More alternatives need to be considered than the four that the MTA has given us.

    • More than four alternatives? What else would you propose besides a drastic restructuring of the fare? The MTA has to generate around $400 million more annually, and there are only so many avenues from them to pursue that don’t require huge upfront costs as, say, distance-based fares would.

      • BrooklynBus says:

        As I stated here: http://www.sheepsheadbites.com.....-solution/, at some time the MTA has to look at making the fare fairer by not counting transfers to Limiteds and SBS routes as the only transfer you are allowed, greatly limiting their usefulness.

        They need to investigate the effects on revenue by allowing as many transfers as needed within 90 minutes or 2 hours of the first transfer. That doesn’t involve the capital expense of creating a zone system. They just can’t continue to raise fares and tolls every year. TBTA tolls are just getting ridiculous.

        Also, It cost $12 to use the GB to get back from NJ while the Tappen Zee costs $5. And the answer is not to double the cost of he Tappen Zee. EZ Pass riders do not even get a weekend discount since Sats and Suns are considered peak periods. And why is there an $18 annual fee for EZ Pass? It does not pay for occasional users to buy one. Who else charges for mailing statements?

        The fares and tolls need to have separate hearings and you shouldnt have to wait four hours to speak.The MTA has to become more imaginative in their thinking and Albany has to wake up too.

        • Andrew says:

          The number of people who would benefit from multiple transfers is staggeringly tiny. Allowing multiple transfers would stimulate negligible ridership while decreasing fare revenues significantly, as people traveling by subway from point to point to point would no longer be paying a full fare for each trip.

          The fares and tolls are part of a single package. There’s no reason for separate hearings – if you want to speak about both of them, why should you have to take the time to attend two hearings?

          MTA EZPasses don’t charge monthly or annual fees – did you get your tag from Maryland, by any chance?

      • Bolwerk says:

        I largely agree with BrooklynBus. The number of seats has little to do with the cost of providing the trip. A lot of the reason for 3-seat trips is that a 2-seat option was eliminated. The TA even continues to recognize cases where routes were eliminated decades ago, like the L Train’s transfer within fare control to a bus. Why should people who lost their bus route in 2010 not get the same perk?

        As for collection, I still like my suggestion about not giving bonuses until until the TA is getting fronted a fairly significant amount of revenue, and encouraging bonuses to be spent off-peak. Bonuses for $10 trips seem kind of frivolous anyway. Maybe my numbers are wrong, but I think the idea plain works better.

    • crescent22 says:

      Double and triple transfers aren’t today’s problem. Bring it up another time.

      • LLQBTT says:

        They are if riding multiple bus lines without the benefits of the unlimited/monthly cards and where only 1 xfer is permitted before another fare is charged.

        Example: Anyone can ride the A or the 2 end to end for $2.25. However, those who do not have a car like I do and live in most any outer borough neighborhood and have to take say 2 buses and a train, 3 buses and even a train and bus on pay-per-rides and so forth to travel relatively short distances, and that have to do this more than once a day will be affected by any fare increase.

        • crescent22 says:

          Everyone is affected in their own unique way by the fare hike proposal. No different for you than everyone else. Favor the proposal of the four that is best for you or most equitable in your opinion.

          The point is today’s discussion is not about solving the separate issue of extra charges beyond one transfer.

        • Nathanael says:

          Zone system, please. Sigh.

  12. LLQBTT says:

    I’ll take scenario 5: ALbany restores the ‘stolen’ money, Gov. Cuomo finally identifes a steady funding stream, and the City of New York does any of the following:

    Ups its contribution to the subway and NYCT bus
    Revoke the tunnel leases with the MTA and take over operations for the subway and NYCT buses
    Implement congestion pricing as Mayor Mike first envisioned (screw the state and its stupid meddling)

    • Justin Samuels says:

      If outer borough residents have to pay to drive into Manhattan (it won’t happen) then I say Queens, Kings, Bronx, and Richmond counties should succeed from NYC, living New York only Manhattan and also depriving the city of the tax base of the outer boroughs.

      It was only around 1900 that the outer boroughs joined NYC, and if through congestion pricing outer borough residents had to pay for the privilege to drive into Manhattan, what’s to stop them from separating from NYC?

      Cuomo is not that big into transit issues. The steady revenue stream he has identified is higher fares.:)

      • BoerumBum says:

        I propose that they pilot the succession with Richmond, to determine if anyone would notice or miss it. 😛

      • Don Anon says:

        . . . then I say Queens, Kings, Bronx, and Richmond counties should succeed [sic] from NYC, living [sic] New York only Manhattan and also depriving the city of the tax base of the outer boroughs.
        Manhattan has the most significant tax base in the city — lots of sales tax revenues, lots of ratables (the most expensive commercial and residential real estate), and lots of high-income residents (and therefore personal income tax revenues). So, why on earth would the outer boroughs want to “succeed” [sic]?

      • Bolwerk says:

        That is about the dumbest argument I see against CP, and most of them are dumb. Outer borough residents already pay for the “privilege” to take a train into Manhattan, and I don’t hear any butthert wails about that. But step on the fraction of people who need to take a car into Manhattan and suddenly the sky is fallin’.

        If it doesn’t happen, it’s only because outer borough pols care more about a few whiners than about sensible transportation policy. For almost any driver who cares about his/her time, having all drivers pay for their use is a favor. It means that when an outer borough resident needs to travel to Manhattan, there is much more likely to be capacity to do so in a timely manner.

        (Also, Don Anon is probably right. I’d venture to guess the flow of tax money is already from Manhattan to the boroughs, rather than the other way around.)

      • Henry says:

        I am aghast at the idea of seceding, because that would mean putting the Borough Presidents back in a position of power, and some of them probably should not become powerful political figures.

  13. crescent22 says:

    These guys have done a very smart PR move – they probably always intended #4- $112 30-day, $2.50 base fare, retain bonus.

    They decide to list individually more painful choices – $119 or $125 metrocards or $2.50 no bonus options for the different constituencies to give people the emotion that they are happy it isn’t worse.

  14. Janice says:

    If the break even point goes much above 50 rides, then I won’t be buying a monthly anymore. That’s why option 2 is absurd, in my opinion. 59 rides in 30 days? I live and work in the city, but usually don’t ride an average of 2x per day.

  15. Quinn Raymond says:

    First and foremost Albany needs to restore the funding they have stolen from the system. You can’t have a discussion about raising the fare until that happens. Period.

    There is no “fair” way to raise the fare– if you go after the pay-per-riders you’re screwing poor people. If you go after the monthlies you’re increasing congestion at the Metrocard vending machines and slowing the whole system down.

    Why are we penalizing people for making good transportation decisions?

  16. I’m a big fan of option #1 as this should primarily impact tourists and occasional riders. No tourist is going to shy away from taking the subway over another $.25 per ride and occasional riders can go without the bonus and be just fine. They’re paying a “penalty” per se for holding up the TVM lines.

    Maybe we can create a new incentive to get more people onto Easypay Xpress? This will keep TVM lines clear and the masses happy.

    Are any cuts being proposed alongside the fare hikes? If not, why are we not eliminating token booth agent jobs? They do a whole lot of nothing and can be replaced by a mixture of TVMs and help poles like they’re rolling out along the (6) line. Booth agents are never helpful nor pleasant so let’s cut their salaries out of the equation and replace them with more efficient machines that don’t complain nor need benefits / pensions.

  17. mighty_mouse says:

    how bout we raise the retirement age and cap the pensions for MTA employees ? anything else is robbery

  18. Someone says:

    Who says we go with scenario #6: $2.25 base fare, 7% bonus, $30 7-day pass, and $109 30-day pass. The cheapest.

  19. Anthony says:

    My daily commute is currently a 5 minute walk and I use the subway for 1 to 3 round trips per week. I voted for #4. There should definitely be a bonus for single riders because without it people will have no incentive to put larger loads of money on the card. That means longer lines due to more frequent card filling. I’ve personally never put less than the minimum to get the bonus, and always exact dollar amounts so it eventually zeroes out, but if it’s removed I’d totally be loading my loose change onto the card all the time to get rid of it. There’s also a nice psychological perk to the bonus in that it’s nice when I initially don’t have enough money to swipe, but after adding $20 and after swiping my balance is $20.40 or something because the bonus + what was on there was enough for a trip.

    • Anthony says:

      Also, the price of a single ride affects how I shop. If I’d have to go far enough to require taking the train, I first try to find what I want online with free or cheap shipping. Oftentimes it’s better to get free shipping from Amazon and get an item for the same price as if I went shopping locally and paid an extra $4.50 + the time and effort it takes to go out. It’s not a lot of money but as a student every dollar counts, and I can imagine the same is true for a lot of other single riders. Increasing the fare on single riders too much might encourage them to use the system less while unlimited riders have unlimited cards generally because they commute regularly. It would have to be quite a big fare increase to get a commuter to change their mode of transportation entirely, whereas a single rider is not as dependent on the system.


  1. […] you, my faithful readers, continue to debate the least worse fare hike option, the MTA has announced the looming schedule of fare hike hearings. At this sessions, New Yorkers […]

  2. […] that we’ve seen the fare hike proposals and know when the public hearings will take place, the looming transit rate increase seems like a […]

  3. […] credits the “growing chorus of voices calling for more state support”–a chorus that includes Riders Alliance members, as we organize in neighborhoods around New […]

  4. […] announcing plans for a looming fare hike, the MTA unveiled a complicated slate of options that featured a wide array of potential outcomes. Some scenarios saw the monthly card jump to $125; […]

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