Riders fumed at the MTA last night during the first of its hearing on fare hikes slated for Jan. 2011. At the top of the list is a planned cap on 30-day cards.


“We can’t afford this fare increase,” said Michael Riley, 43, a freelance musician from Queens. “If I’m only able to use my card just for five trips during the workweek it’s going to strip a vital part of the city away from us.”


The proposed hikes come on the heels of the most significant service cuts in decades: Two subway lines and dozens of buses were axed in June to help plug an $800 million hole in the MTA’s $12 billion 2010 budget. Loud complaints during the last round of hearings did rescue $6 million worth of cuts and may help again, said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign.


“You can’t win it if you’re not in it,” said Russianoff.


It’s not fair to have riders pay “unprecedented back-to-back” increases to help MTA woes — including a $143 million cut from the state and a downturn in transit tax revenue — when the agency isn’t asking for more government help. A $99, 30-Day capped MetroCard for a working parent who takes a child to school means 88 rides, with just two discretionary trips left.