Home Fare Hikes No matter what, a fare hike is coming

No matter what, a fare hike is coming

by Benjamin Kabak

Fare Type Current Proposal 1 Proposal 2 Ravitch 1 Ravitch 2
Base Fare $2 $2.50 $2.25 $2.25 $2.00
Cash/Single Ride $2 $2.50 $3 $2.25 $2.25
Bonus + Threshold 15% at $7 15% at $7 None 20% at $7 None
Bonus Per Ride $1.74 $2.17 N/A $1.88 N/A
1-Day Unlimited $7.50 $9.50 $9.50 $8 $8
7-Day Unlimited $25 $31 $31 $27 $26
14-Day Unlimited $47 $59 $57 $49 $49
30-Day Unlimited $81 $103 $99 $88 $87

Various fare hike proposals from the MTA

What you are looking at above is the bad news. The MTA released on Monday a fare policy memo (PDF) from CFO Gary Dellaverson to the agency’s board detailing the various possible fare hikes.

To summarize, the first column on the left is the current fare structure. Following it are two proposals the MTA would consider under its so-called “Doomsday budget.” In those instances, the MTA is not relying on any sort of transit relief via the Ravitch proposal or any other idea that may come down the pike. Rather, on its own, the agency is searching for a way to generate what Dellaverson called “a 23% increase in yield from fares.”

The two columns on the right represent the fare hike if the Ravitch plan or some other form of relief is passed. Under those fare structures, the MTA would expect its rider to shoulder a fare hike of just eight percent. Both of these plans also involve raising rates on the MTA commuter rails and bridges and tunnels.

It’s hard to feel too good about either of these proposals because, no matter what, New Yorkers will suffer through two years in a row with fare hikes in 2009. No matter the outcome of the Ravitch proposal or the economy, no matter what happens with any potential stimulus plan, the MTA will raise the fares in 2009, and there is nothing anyone can do about it except grin and bear it.

With that in mind, I much prefer both Proposal 2 and Ravitch 2 over the other options for this inevitable fare hike. Simply put, these options reward frequent travelers as best as they can. In my opinion, the biggest mistake the MTA made when they raised fares in 2008 was in choosing to not raise the base fare. By keeping the standard fare at $2, infrequent riders got to enjoy a low fare while those who used the system most had to pay the most.

Now, I understand that we’ll all have to pay, but the fares should be raised in a way that generates enough revenue without negatively impacting the people most dependent on transit. Those people, in my book, are the ones who buy the Unlimited ride cards. Proposal 2 keeps the 30-day card under that psychological $100 barrier, and Ravitch 2 minimizes the increases across the board. That’s the way it should be.

As 2008 draws to a close tomorrow night, it hasn’t been a good year for the MTA. While Elliot Sander marked the agency’s 40th birthday with an ambitious eye toward the future, the year has ended with bad economic news, a hazy outlook for expansion and now a fare hike. Here’s to hoping 2009 will bring better subway news for New York City.

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Dear Investor, Please Don’t Put a Price on My Soul - City Room Blog - NYTimes.com December 30, 2008 - 11:38 am

[…] with the old and in with the new M.T.A. fares: A breakdown of various fare hike proposals for 2009. Cheers! [2nd Ave […]

Kris Datta December 30, 2008 - 5:26 pm

In my opinion, the second proposal is the best. The Ravitch proposals aren’tvery favorablebecause they put tolls on the free bridges, and the drivers in this city shouldn’t pay for the MTA’s screw-ups in a completely different sector (NYCT vs. B&T). Also, under proposal two, bonuses are eliminated so you aren’t really paying more, just you’re getting what you pay for.

If the MTA wants to think out of the box, they can cut the rides offered on Student Metrocards (like the one I use) from three to two. I don’t know if it’ll save money, but if it does then it won’t really affect many people since they only use their metrocard twice a day. Not to mention that if some people need the three rides, the MTA can offer three-ride student metrocards to these students like they do today with four-ride metrocards.

Cap'n Transit December 30, 2008 - 8:07 pm

The Ravitch plan isn’t about making drivers pay for some imaginary MTA screw-ups. It’s about the fact that it costs money to maintain the bridges, and that money’s been paid for out of general revenue (income and sales tax). It’s not fair to ask non-drivers to pay for a resource that’s largely used by drivers.

Ellie December 31, 2008 - 7:11 pm

A subway ride is a valuable resource to me because I do not want to drive or have the expenses related to driving.

However, it is not fair to ask subway riders to pay for bridges and tunnels that we more than likely do not use.

A fare hike is going to happen – and I would pay up to $150/month for an unlimited card. That’s how valuable it is to me today.

Alon Levy January 1, 2009 - 3:13 am

I don’t understand your preference for Ravitch 2 over Ravitch 1. The unlimiteds cost a buck more each, which works out to 4% for the 7-day and 1% for the 30-day, but the pay-per-ride costs 12 cents less, which works out to 6%.

Second Ave. Sagas | A New York City Subway Blog » Blog Archive » » The MTA’s real endgame January 2, 2009 - 1:20 am

[…] of numbers concerning the so-called Doomsday scenario that might come to pass. The agency unveiled four different fare hike proposals and outlined the various service cuts that could go into effect as early as June. It’s scary […]

Boris January 2, 2009 - 3:06 am

I’ve almost given up on trying to explain to people the benefits of tolling the East River bridges. The arguments in favor are many, but they all seem to be too hard for most people to understand. Now I just explain it as a matter of fairness. Staten Islanders have been subsidizing the Metro-North and LIRR for decades. Long Islanders go through Manhattan to New Jersey for free but return to help pay for our airports (Port Authority crossings). New Yorkers avoid New Jersey toll roads and pollute distant New York City neighborhoods so that they can get upstate. It’s about time that those who live in Brooklyn and Queens pay their fare share for polluting and making others miserable. That’s all. It doesn’t even matter where that money goes, as long as it doesn’t go towards building new roads. The fact that it will provide us with better subway and bus service is a bonus.


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