Home Fare Hikes MTA likely to implement ’08 fare hike

MTA likely to implement ’08 fare hike

by Benjamin Kabak

Remember how Eliot Spitzer, during his campaign for governor, said that an MTA fare and toll hike would come about only a last resort? Well, get ready for that last resort.

News reports indicate that, when the MTA announces its proposed 2008 budget this Wednesday, fare hikes will be a part of the deal. Pete Donohue of the Daily News has more:

The MTA will put fare and toll hikes on the table next week in its preliminary 2008 budget but the agency won’t cut services next year, sources said yesterday.

The preliminary budget envisions raising hundreds of millions of dollars by charging more for buses, subways, commuter trains and Metropolitan Transportation Authority bridges and tunnels.

Sources said the plan – to be unveiled at the MTA board’s monthly meeting Wednesday – also envisions others sharing the burden of closing the gaps. It will call for administrative streamlining, better use of technology and increased revenues from state taxes.

This is of course bad news from those of us who are watching our wallets, and it does, as the News pointed out, fly in the face of Spitzer’s campaign promises. But transit advocates are at least accepting of the fare hike.

“In the face of large budget deficits, reality has to strike,” Neysa Pranger of the Straphangers Campaign told Donohue. “If that means everyone pitches in a bit more, including the riders and the state through dedicated taxes, I think that would be reasonable. But at the same time, riders can’t bear an unreasonable share, and possibly should get something in return if they are paying more.”

Gene Russianoff, also of the Straphangers Campaign, took a similar stance. “Any fare hike proposal should only be seriously considered at the same time the governor wins congestion pricing and new transit aid, which would raise billions of dollars to fix transit and take pressure off the MTA’s budget,” he said. I agree; the MTA should find a way to adequately distribute their budge deficit. It shouldn’t just be incumbent upon the riders to shoulder that burden.

Meanwhile, it seems to me that one of the ways the MTA may go about raising revenue and the fares will be through fewer discounts. Because of pay-per-ride discounts and unlimited ride passes, the average subway ride now costs around $1.30, lower than it did in 1996 before the widespread use of Metrocards. The reality is that the MTA cannot operate on such a low fare.

But if the MTA raises fares, riders are right to expect better service. The increased fares and added revenue should go toward better service – such as an F/V express option in Brooklyn – and more frequent service during off hours. On Wednesday, we’ll have a general sense of what the MTA’s revenue targets are. We won’t know about the nitty gritty of the fare hikes for a while. But be prepared for one; it seems inevitable.

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Lex July 23, 2007 - 1:35 pm

This news just makes me sick. Our fare is already too high considering the level of service, especially on the east side. And cry me a river F/V BK riders. Really. How many YEARS, even DECADES have the Bronx and UES riders been bitching about a SAS or at least better service? How long have we had local 6 train and express 4/5 service that makes the F/V look like the Orient Express? The 6 is overcrowded on a daily basis with folks who’ve realized that there isn’t even a point to the “express” 4/5 when there is some sort of “delay”.

Now we’re going to pay more and hope for better service? Right. And let’s not even get started on the express buses and traffic issue.

Mark July 23, 2007 - 6:12 pm

Don’t worry. Congestion pricing will cure all of our transportation ills.

Straphangers report cards name 1 the top, C and W the worst « Second Ave. Sagas | Blogging the NYC Subways July 23, 2007 - 10:49 pm

[…] certainly makes it sound like the MTA could really use that money from the congestion fee and that upcoming fare hike. But at what cost to the […]

AgentK July 24, 2007 - 4:38 am

“unlimited ride passes, the average subway ride now costs around $1.30”–ridiculous. This figure is wrong. The 30-day card costs $76. If you go to work 5 days a week, you have 22 work days in 30; if you go to work 6 days a week, you have 26 days in 30. Rounded off, 76/22/2=1.73; 76/26/2=1.46; $1.30 comes out of nowhere. 76/1.30/2=29.2 days??? Also, for the $10 card, you get 6 rides; the average cost is 10/6=1.67. I hate it when MTA scams the 5-day workers. I think they should redesign the system to catch up with the rest of the world. In most modern cities, the train fare is distance-based and you need to use the card when you exit. To prevent people from abusing the system (traveling a long distance, not leaving and exit from the original station), staying in the train system for over a few hours is illegal. If MTA were to implement this method, they can raise the price reasonably without affecting relatively-short-distance users. In addition, this can solve the hobo problem. By the way, when MTA introduced the swipe cards, it was the time when other cities abandoned the swiping method and moved onto contactless cards and “barless” turnstiles. Even when the other cities were using swiping turnstiles, the machine has conveyor belts to pick up the card and ensure correct swiping speed. I could not believe that MTA wasted so much money on ancient technology.

Marc Shepherd July 24, 2007 - 8:14 am

AgentK, the average cost of a transit ride is now $1.30. That includes people who take more than 2 transit rides a day, and it also includes people who make bus-subway transfers. Remember, before the MetroCard, transfers between bus and subway entailed an extra fare. It also encompasses various discounts (senior citizens, students, etc.). Add it all up, and you get to $1.30 per ride.

You are correct that most subway systems have distance-based fares. New York’s system wasn’t designed that way, and there’s no point yelling about it, because the people who made the decision are all dead. To change it NOW would require a massive capital investment at every single one of the 468 subway stations. At the end of that investment (which would take years), service would be no better. We would simply have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to change the way fares are calculated. I think most people would rather spend that money improving the system.

Of course, even if a distance-based fare system were a good idea in the abstract (which it isn’t), it wouldn’t be acceptable politically. It would basically mean that people in the outer boroughs (i.e., those with lower incomes) are forced pay more for their ride to work than those who live in Manhattan. The outer-borough legislators (who outnumber their Manhattan counterparts) would surely block it, just as they are blocking congestion pricing.

By the way, I don’t view this increase as contradicting Spitzer’s campaign promise. He said fare hikes would be a last resort, and sure enough, they are. I do agree that service should get better, particularly on weekends and during the evenings, but bear in mind that every service improvement widens the funding gap that needs to be filled somehow.

Lex July 24, 2007 - 10:27 am

Shepherd: Are you drinking Spitzer’s juice, too? This isn’t a last resort. And these weekend repairs that go on in Manhattan which make traversing the subway a nightmare and scare away many a tourist who would be better off not clogging our streets should not be done in “bunches”. It’s just common sense, the system has been a victim of neglect for the hundred years it’s been around and now it needs updating. But to update every LINE every weekend for the next 10 years? Only to have to do it all over again..? Wouldn’t it be prudent to do sections at a time?

Marc Shepherd July 24, 2007 - 10:58 am

No, I am not “drinking Spitzer’s juice.” The statement that “fare increases are a last resort” is just a standard disclaimer that politicians of both parties use all the time. And then, every few years, after all other *realistic* options are exhausted, fares do indeed go up. If you are wondering why, just look at the history of the five-cent fare, which nearly killed the subway in the 1930s.

It is incoherent to complain about service, and then to *also* complain about weekend service diversions. You want less maintenance? Service improvement, or even keeping the current level of service, is not possible without constant repairs and upgrades. Remember the 1970s? We have one of the few 24×7 subway systems in the world. When, exactly, do you expect them to maintain it?

MTA Could Move on Fare Hike TODAY : SUBWAYblogger.com: Blog from the New York Subway July 25, 2007 - 8:40 am

[…] reports say that the MTA could vote on its first fare hike in four years as early as today!  🙁  If an increase is on the agenda, there won’t be a […]


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