Home Fare Hikes Is Walder hedging on 2010 fare hikes?

Is Walder hedging on 2010 fare hikes?

by Benjamin Kabak

As the MTA’s finances have gone south, the authority has held the line on their preference for service cuts over fare hikes. Since the fares have gone up in each of the last two years and are scheduled to increase again in 2011, the agency is hesitant to use a fare increase as a fiscal band aid yet again this year.

“Throughout the situation,” Jay Walder, MTA CEO and Chairman, said, “it has been my intent to hold to that scheduled increase. I believe that having regularly scheduled increases is preferable to increasing fares and tolls in other circumstances, and we’re trying very much to stay in that mode.”

I’ve often wondered if Walder’s Moby Dick-like aversion to fare hikes is misguided. I’d rather pay more for the subway service we have than suffer through longer waits, more crowded trains and generally less convenient service. In a poll I conducted on site a few weeks ago, 78 percent of voters agreed. Still, the cuts are coming closer.

Yet, now the MTA faces a greater deficit than originally anticipated. By recent accounts, the authority is $750 million in the hole for 2010, and it is but only the end of February. Unless the economy turns around in a hurry, that financial picture will grow darker as the year goes on. “Our financial position is dire, Walder said yesterday. “I don’t think I can overstate that. Clearly I’d like to look at every avenue we can do for ways we can reduce our costs, ways that would be less painful for our customers and our employees.”

So maybe, says Michael Grynbaum of The Times, picking up on Walder’s hedging, fare hikes

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Scott E February 25, 2010 - 7:46 pm

The precedent this might set concerns me. Every time the authority uses a fare-hike to cover a financial shortcoming, they are essentially telling Albany that “we can handle the budget crisis ourselves, we don’t need your help.” Even if a hike is in order, it should not be used as a bailout for the state government’s responsibilities.

SEAN February 25, 2010 - 8:37 pm

Fare enough, but what to do in this situation. The options for the MTA are quite limited & none are pleasant.

How about this…
1 DAY $10
7 DAY $25
30 DAY $100

I know I’m going to get a few angry comments but, something needs to be done soon & dam the polititions!

Alon Levy February 26, 2010 - 1:12 am

How I react depends on whether you want $2.50 to be the base fare or the effective fare after the pay-per-ride discount. If it’s the base fare, then it’s basically a global 11% fare hike for NYCT. If it’s the pay-per-ride fare, then it’s a larger fare hike but also a greater incentive to use unlimited cards, which is a good thing.

By the way, if the free bridges get tolled, the MTA may not need the fare hike…

Older and Wiser February 27, 2010 - 5:00 pm

When the price of milk or credit card interest rates go up, it’s rarely by a mere 11%. More Like 22% most of the time.

Alon Levy February 28, 2010 - 1:34 am

Food prices fluctuate wildly. For example, take the same 12-ounce individually wrapped processed American cheese by Kraft. In the last 3.5 years, its price has gone from $1.99 to $2.49 to $2.99 to $2.29. It went up while the world food crisis was building up, and then went back down as the food crisis gave way to the deflationary financial crisis.

Kris Datta February 25, 2010 - 9:03 pm

While I do agree that fare hikes would put off service cuts I do believe that there are some services that really do need to be cut in order to trim fat. I believe that the main/useful services on the chopping block should’ve stuck around during the 2009 fare hike scare, while the services with either really high operating costs, few runs or low ridership (such as the Q89, BM4, X25, etc.) should have been eliminated to prevent extra spending during a time when the MTA needs every dollar it can get.

Streetsblog New York City » Today’s Headlines February 26, 2010 - 8:54 am

[…] Walder Won't Rule Out Fare Hike (NYT, SAS) […]

David Robertson February 26, 2010 - 1:49 pm

Well it is not Walder’s tone has changed – he has reached a point where the service cuts and layoffs would not meet the finances – requirement to close the gap – it would be ridiculous if he is not considering fare hike.

What is percentage of fare hike, he would be thinking of 5%, 7.5%, 10%, 12.5% increase – whether that increase will bring MTA to be solvent in the long run? I doubt it – it maybe a short term solution to long term ill.

Walder has to use Robert Moses principle squeeze the politicians to fund public projects for the benefit of the public, that would be lasting solution – I doubt it if has that kind of ability or stature – he could not squeeze Bloomberg to enforce bus lane let alone get funds.

Benjamin Kabak February 26, 2010 - 1:55 pm

Bloomberg wasn’t the issue on bus lane enforcement, and Walder wasn’t even around when the State shot that down. Bus lane enforcement required a home rule measure that the State Assembly failed to approve. You can blame David Gantt for that one.

Phil February 26, 2010 - 4:18 pm

It may sound crazy, but how about a zoned far system? Why should someone who travels from say, Downtown to Midtown, subsidise someone who travels from Brooklyn to the Bronx? That or peak hour surcharges.

Alon Levy February 26, 2010 - 11:39 pm

The turnstiles need to be retrofitted for distance-based fares. The benefits may not exceed costs.

Ariel February 27, 2010 - 5:12 pm

You should take merging bureaucracies into consideration as solution as well. Like Walder mentioned before, the MTA’s administration is too bloated with some agencies repeating jobs that are done in others.

A good start would be to merge LIRR with Metro-North and LI Bus with NYCT bus. I am not saying that this will solve the budget problems, but it should definitely be done before a fare hike is implemented.


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