MTA head says MetroCard discounts could disappear

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Better enjoy that seven percent MetroCard discount while it lasts. Because it may not be sticking around forever.

The head of the MTA, Chairman Joe Lhota hinted yesterday that the MTA may reduce some of the discounts on cards, according to reports.

Right now, riders get a seven percent discount when they put $10 on a pay-ride $MetroCard.

“Do we really need to give that level of a discount?” Lhota asked yesterday at a Crains breakfast forum, according to the New York Post.

“We need to look at those discounts and have a public debate,” he said.

As part of a planned MTA fare hike, subway and bus fares are scheduled to increase this March, to bring in an extra $450 million into the MTA’s coffers. Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North fares are also scheduled to increase, as are some bridge and tunnel tolls.

The MTA has not yet decided how much fares will rise, but they will release a list of fare hike options in October, according to reports. As the MTA did for the 2009 fare hike, they will also hold a series of public hearings in mid-November.

The last fare hike brought the monthly MetroCard to a whopping $104, and a weekly to $29.

The MTA board will vote on the fare hike in December.

Currently, when riders put less than $10 on a MetroCard, the base fare is $2.25. But with the seven percent discount the cost per ride is $2.10, according to the Straphangers Campaign, a riders advocacy group.

The Straphangers Campaign said they have some serious concerns about the proposal.

The seven percent discount on $10 purchases is more accessible to low-income riders, the group pointed out. After all, not everyone can put up $104 up front for a 30-day unlimited MetroCard, or the $29 for a seven-day unlimited MetroCard.

“Eliminating the discount is no different than a fare hike,” said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the Straphangers Campaign.


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