NYC transit agency board votes for another fare increase, sharp rise for monthly passes

By Deepti Hajela, AP
Thursday, October 7, 2010

NYC transit agency board votes to increase fares

NEW YORK — The cost of riding New York City’s subways, buses and commuter rails is going up again, the third fare increase in three years and one that comes just months after severe cuts to service.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board approved fare hikes with a 12-2 vote Thursday, following increases in 2008 and 2009, and ahead of another planned hike in 2013.

The increases, which go into effect Dec. 30, are the latest attempt by the nation’s largest transit agency to close an $800 million budget gap.

The agency had no choice, MTA Chairman Jay Walder said.

“There is simply no way to be able to make up for the monies that are being raised here today,” he said. The fare increase is expected to bring in $425 million next year, he said.

The price of unlimited-ride monthly Metrocards will rise from $89 to $104, an increase of nearly 17 percent, the largest approved by the MTA.

The price of a weekly Metrocard will rise from $27 to $29. A single-ride fare will increase 25 cents to $2.50. On multiple-fare Metrocards, it will remain $2.25. The one-day and 14-day Metrocards will be discontinued.

Fare hikes aren’t the only increases to the cost of riding public transit. New Metrocards will cost $1, a way to encourage riders to keep using their card to keep costs down, the MTA said. And bonuses that come with pay-per-ride cards will be decreased while the amount of money necessary to get the bonus will go up.

The proposal will also raise fares on suburban trains, affecting about 535,000 daily riders on Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Rail Road trains.

Board member Norman Seabrook, one of two to vote against the hike, said he couldn’t support the increases coming after service cuts and employee layoffs.

“Please reconsider this increase,” he told the other board members. “If you can live with yourself, you can close your eyes at night knowing that you stuck it to all of these people, then it’s a good look, you do what you gotta do.”

Iris Hernandez, a commuter from of West New York, N.J., has some decisions to make because the increase is about to add $180 to the yearly commuting costs that she and her husband already pay.

“We’ll have to change, spend less at home or make some personal changes so we have the money, but he has to use it,” she said of the monthly subway and bus passes her husband buys to get to work.

The multiple fare hikes coming so quickly after one another was unprecedented, said transit advocate Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign.

He said the agency had been hit by funding cuts from the state but that the MTA hadn’t done enough to try to get additional funding from the state and federal governments.

“It’s going to be a hardship,” he said.

Jenna Tarshis, who uses a monthly Metrocard to commute to her job, was resigned to the cost increase for her daily subway rides.

“I understand they have to pay for things, and I don’t want my service to be decreased, but at the same time, it’s not a good time in the economy to be raising prices for people to get to and from work,” the 24-year-old Tarshis said.

“It’s not like I’m making a ton of money to be spending the extra,” she said. “And there’s nothing I can do. I’m not going to take a cab across town every day.”

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