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  • Writer's pictureAlbert C

MTA Announces Fare Hikes

The MTA chose this plan over an alternative, which would have eliminated the cash bonus for subway rides. Travelers to Staten Island were also hit with hikes to Verrazano Bridge tolls; LIRR and Metro-North fares will also rise. Higher fares go into effect March 22.

Fare increases are likely to continue in future. The MTA intends to hike fares again in 2017, and there will probably be more. One reason is that the MTA is a huge employer, and has to pay rising wage, pension, and healthcare bills. But the main reason is the MTA’s program to upgrade infrastructure, which has new urgency after Hurricane Sandy.

The MTA plans to spend just over $32 billion on capital works between 2015 and 2019—including $15.5 billion for the subway, and $2 billion on New York buses, and more on new stations and lines, including the Second Avenue line. That would be fine if the MTA had 32 billion dollars, but it’s short $15 billion or so on the funding it needs to do all these things.

The MTA can borrow money, but it already has $30 billion in debt, and that figure is projected to increase. An audit found that the MTA would have to increase fares and tolls by 1% to service a debt of $1 billion using fare increases. At the same time, the State government continues to take money out of the MTA system to improve the State budget bottom line—$30 million went to Albany in 2014.

No one likes to see fares go up, but the increases hit the very poor the hardest. The Community Service Society says that one-third of New Yorkers living in poverty often cannot afford subway fares. And the poorest New Yorkers are those who can only afford to buy a ride when they need it, and so are least likely to benefit from discounts on fares.

At the same time, the MTA has delayed the eventual replacement for the MetroCard. Initially planned for a 2016 introduction, the MTA has now said it doesn’t want to rush the new system, which will probably involve some combination of payment by phones, cards and an MTA ticketing system.

People get passionate about fare increases because the subway is part of New York life—the subway had a ridership of 1.7 billion in 2013. But even for the most devoted riders, there are times when cranky MetroCard systems, late-night waits, and crowded trains just don’t feel worth it—especially if it’s all going to cost more. Those are the times when Luxor Limo is here to help.

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