Home Asides A late-June Student MetroCard showdown looms

A late-June Student MetroCard showdown looms

by Benjamin Kabak

Because New York City Transit needs a few months’ lead time in order to prepare MetroCard Vending Machines for half-priced student passes, the MTA Board will vote on the future of free student travel during its June 23 meeting, The Post reported on Saturday. “After you hit July, it would make things really difficult,” Hilary Ring, the MTA’s director of governmental affairs, said to lawmakers last week. “It’s not like you can just flip a switch or something; it’s more complicated than that.”

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, MTA officials are engaged with state representatives on potential student travel funding plans, but time is, of course, of the essence. We need the state to understand that we can’t continue to function as a free bus service,” Ring said. In related news, New York City announced recently that it will end courtesy busing for 5000 students who currently attend schools hard to reach via transit. While the MTA will see revenues improve when students must pay, the city’s less wealthy families will suffer.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have been notably silent, at least in public, on the topic of potential rescue plans. In March, Pedro Espada, the state senate majority leader, proposed a modest bridge toll with revenues earmarked for student travel, and new council transportation committee chair James Vacca has vaguely pledged to do “everything we can” to rescue the student MetroCards. For now, though, it appears that until the economy improves, students will be saddled with footing their own bill for travel come the fall.

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Josh K May 24, 2010 - 1:45 pm

We’re 54 days overdue with the state budget, with no end in sight. How are they supposed to save Student Metrocards when they haven’t figured out a budget yet and it doesn’t look like they’re going to do anything about it until after the November elections?

If everything else hasn’t already convinced everyone that we need to get rid of ALL of the politicians in Albany, from both parties, I don’t know how this isn’t the final straw.

Scott E May 24, 2010 - 3:22 pm

The timing seems poor. When the MTA first brought up the end to free student transit, and every mention since then, they should have said that June 2010 is the deadline for a commitment of city- or state-funding. Bringing it up now seems too late. Anytime you have a request (or demand) from the government, you need a target date, otherwise it will get pushed to the back-burner. The best we could hope for now is some sort of rebate program, which would be more costly to administer than a student-transit subsidy in the first place.

Benjamin Kabak May 24, 2010 - 6:32 pm

If you go back and look at what the MTA officials were saying earlier this year, June was their date then. It’s not bad timing at all. It’s just delivering on an early -2010 promise, something the state has failed to do.

Anon May 24, 2010 - 5:36 pm Reply

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