After a series of public hearings last month, MTA Chairman and CEO Joe Lhota has unveiled his recommended fare hike proposal ahead of Wednesday’s board vote. The package of fare hikes across all MTA properties resembles the one discussed Monday and will generate $450 million in additional annual revenue for the agency.
When the dust settled from the public debate, Lhota had determined that across-the-board increases — instead of the usual steep spike in the cost of unlimited ride cards — would be preferable. The base fare will go up to $2.50 with a 5% bonus on all purchase above $5. The 7- and 30-day cards will increase to $30 and $112, a jump of $1 and $8 respectively. “Customers asked us to minimize increases to the passes and maintain some level of bonus,” Lhota explained in a letter to the MTA Board. “They did not want to see another double-digit percentage increase in the 30-day pass.”
In addition to the fare increases, Lhota has also urged the MTA to adopt the $1 surcharge for new MetroCards. The MTA first announced plans to explore such a surcharge back in 2010, but implementation has been delayed due to some technical hurdles. “By encouraging customers to refill their cards,” Lhota wrote, “this fee will realize an estimated $20 million per year, both from savings from card production and new revenue from the fee.” The fee will not apply to out-of-system MetroCard purchases.
Under the new fare structure, the MTA is lowering the break-even point for unlimited ride cards. Currently at 14 rides for a 7-day card and 50 rides fr a 30-day card, the breakeven point will now be at 13 rides and 48 rides, respectively. Even as riders across the board are being asked to shoulder more of the MTA’s fiscal load, unlimited users are not being asked to take on a disproportionate amount of the increase this time around.
The MTA Board will vote on the fare hikes on Wednesday, and we’ll do it all over again in two years when the next schedule rate increases cross our paths.