The MTA board delayed a vote on a proposed fare hike at Thursday’s board meeting, instead pushing back the issue to February so officials can consider other funding options.
The transit authority is cash-strapped, facing about $40 billion of debt, and officials have said that an MTA fare hike is necessary to fund the system and make necessary improvements until another revenue stream is identified.
Two MTA fare hike options have been proposed, which the board was set to vote on on Thursday. Now that vote is delayed until February as the MTA continues to face issues with train service, management authority and funding.
Elected officials, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with members of the public have opposed an MTA fare hike, questioning if the increase really is necessary. Cuomo told the New York Times on Wednesday that he has “no faith in what they say,” referring to the MTA fare hike debate.
Without a fare hike, the MTA warned that service cuts will be necessary to save money. The MTA fare hike was expected to begin in March. Every month those fare and toll hikes are delayed, the MTA estimates it will lose about $30 million.
Still, riders and officials say they are paying enough already for subpar service. Last week, MTA board member Larry Schwartz said that an MTA fare increase would have to be linked to service improvements.
“You shouldn’t be able to charge more for worse service,” State Sen. Brad Hoylman said at Thursday’s MTA board meeting. “I say not a penny more from riders until the MTA gets its house in order.”
Straphangers also have trust issues with the MTA, especially in the wake of the L train shutdown cancelation.
“The public has lost all confidence in the MTA’s ability to invest their capital wisely. When you ask for an increase in fares, they feel their money is going into a black hole,” said MTA board member Scott Rechler. “It’s critical for us to start asking for funding to update our system to a 21st century transit system, to fund Andy [Byford]’s Fast Forward plan… [so] we can regain their trust.”
Other funding options some are pushing for include congestion pricing, a Millionaire’s tax and public private partnerships.
“Governor Cuomo and the legislature need to pass congestion pricing to fix the subway before we discuss any sort of fare hike,” Riders Alliance Executive Director John Raskin said in a statement after the MTA delayed its vote. “The transit system is valuable to all New Yorkers and riders shouldn’t bear the brunt of a generation of state disinvestment.”
What could an MTA fare hike look like?
Currently there are two MTA fare hike options board members are mulling over for a March implementation.
Option 1 would keep the base MTA fare at $2.75, eliminate bonus fares, raise the 30-day MetroCard from $121 to $127 and raise express bus fares from $6.50 to $7.
Option 2 would raise the base MTA fare to $3, increase fare bonuses 10 percent (buy 10 get one free), raise the 30-day MetroCard to $126.50 and express bus fares to $6.59. Under both, 7-day passes would go up one dollar, from $32 to $33.