MTA fare hikes, toll increases approved by board
The base MetroCard will stay the same, but straphangers won't see any more bonuses under the approved MTA fare hike.
Board members voted to implement an MTA fare hike and toll increase on Wednesday that keeps the base MetroCard the same but raises weekly and monthly passes from $32 to $33, and $121 to $127, respectively.
The MTA fare hikes will go into effect on April 21, and toll increase on March 31.
Wednesday’s vote comes after MTA board members delayed the fare vote last month, a move that cost the cash-strapped transit agency $30 million in revenue, said Acting Chairman Fernando Ferrer.
“That will never be made up. That’s not to cast a pall over the discussion about finding new ways [of revenue], that’s simply to give you a fiscal fact, and that fact is beyond dispute,” he said. “It’s not easy to support asking people to come up with more, but as part of a package where...we are doing our part — and we are serious about that — where we step up, riders step up in way that’s within inflation, the government and our funding partners step up, that’s a fair system.”
Under the approved MTA fare increase, the changes are:
- No change to the base MetroCard, no increase for paratransit and no change to a single ride ticket
- MetroCard bonuses will be eliminated
- 7-day MetroCard pass will go from $32 to $33, 30-day pass from $121 to $127
- Coin-on-bus payment will be eliminated for express buses, and express bus fare will rise from $6.50 to $6.75, with 7-day express bus passes increasing from $59.50 to $62
- Commuter rail tickets will see a 3.85 percent increase on weekly and monthly passes, though the maximum increase will be $15 on the monthly and $5.75 on the weekly
- There will be no increase on monthly commuter rail passes at or above $460, and no increase on the West of Hudson customers
For the bridge and tunnel toll hikes, major crossings will go from $5.76 to $6.12, and cars that do toll-by-mail will see a $1 increase from $8.50 to $9.50. New York City Customer Service Center trucks will see a $2 increase on toll-by-mail. Concerning the Verrazano Bridge, board members said that the Staten Island rebate program proposes another $6 million in funding from the state, but if there is no funding from that, then the roll will increase to $5.90.
Straphangers are sure to be upset at the MTA fare hike, especially amidst unreliable service, and some board members agreed it's not ideal.
“Riders are not getting a fair share here, and I’ve never said that before, but it’s gone on too long” said Board Member Andrew Saul. “There are huge overruns on capital construction, huge overruns on overtime. This place is not managed efficiently and riders are getting screwed, period.”
Board members who voted for the MTA fare increase said that they were doing so because the transit authority needs the money now, but they added that other revenue streams to close the agency’s staggering budget gap need to be considered.
According to Ferrer, the MTA projects an operating budget deficit of almost $500 million next year, growing to nearly $1 billion by 2022. The toll and fare increases will bring in an additional $336 million a year, “but it’s not enough to fund our capital program or close the operating deficients.”
“We know increased funding won’t solve all our problems,” he added. “Just as urgent, we must fundamentally reform the MTA.”
The MTA has so far implemented a hiring freeze and aims to fully revue the necessity of any current position, if vacated, before it is refilled.
But MTA Board Member Veronica Vanterpool stressed that more needs to be done.
“Reform is aligning the fiscal year of the MTA with the state budget and city budget cycles,” she said. “We keep asking riders to put their contribution into the system before we know what the state and city will do. We should not be putting customers first and we do it all the time.”
Vanterpool also suggested more diversity and rider representation around the table, more transparency with MTA data, and increased MTA board authority to hire and fire its CEO, appoint a board chair and be involved in the selection of agency presidents.
But reform is separate from this fiscal vote, she said. Though straphangers don’t want a fare increase because of poor service, agency dysfunction and other issues, she and other board members said that this hike was necessary just to keep subway and bus service running.
“The notion of sustainable MTA is our biggest problem,” said Board Member Neal Zuckerman. “The fare increase, which I do support, is one that does not help solve problem. All it does is help keep us treading water.”