A fare hike is coming, and there’s nothing we can do to avoid it. When the MTA Board gathers to meet one final time during 2012 next week, it will voice its concern over yet another rate increase and then vote to jump fares anyway. When I started this site, a 30-day MetroCard cost $76; by March, that figure will be over $110. Just how much over we’ll find out soon.
In today’s tabloids, the word on the fare hike seemed rather definitive. Both The Post and The News ran similar stories on the rate increases. According to those two pieces, the base fare will increase to $2.50 with a pay-per-ride bonus that kicks in with any purchase of $5 or more of just 5 percent. The 30-day card will cost $112 up for $104, and the 7-day card will go from $29 to $30. That mirrors Scenario 4 put forward in October.
From what I’ve heard from sources — and also as reported in The Journal — these proposals aren’t quite proposals. They’re not written down yet, and MTA Chairman Joe Lhota is still floating them as ideas. Here’s how Ted Mann reports it:
Lhota has been calling MTA board members since last week to feel them out about the choices to raise fare and toll revenue. The MTA’s budget requires $450 million from increased fares and tolls in 2013, though the agency now plans to raise $382 million, thanks to better-than-anticipated revenues that prompted leaders to push the fare hike back until March…
One board member said Lhota had seemed to agree with one move to protect low-income riders: lowering the cost at which the bonus kicks in to as little as $5.
Still undecided, one person familiar with the discussions said, is the question of how much to raise tolls on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge between Brooklyn and Staten Island. Holding down the increase on that crossing would require the MTA to make up the revenue elsewhere, possibly by raising tolls slightly more than anticipated on other bridges in the regional system.
So we can conclude that it seems likely that the 30-day MetroCard will be $112, up $36 in six years, and that the base fare will go up. We’re not, obviously, seeing the $125 scenario, and I still believe that proposal was put forward to dull the pain of this “smaller” hike. Still, a fare hike is a fare hike is a fare hike, and unlimited ride card users will be paying much more come March. The past five or six years of fare hikes have fallen harder on their shoulders than on anyone else’s.
Lhota’s need to present a fare hike proposal in a week and a half throws an interesting wrench into the discussions surrounding his potential mayoral aspirations. Even though the 2013 fare hike was set long before Lhota took over the reins, he will be the face of the MTA presenting this proposal to the board and will thus have to be responsible for it. I can’t imagine it’s a political selling point to raise transit fares eight months before a general election while also running for a mayor largely due to the successful response of the MTA to Hurricane Sandy. Think of this note as food for political thought.