A Sneak Peak At Upcoming MTA Fare Hikes

With 2013 only a few weeks away, the time draws closer for the inevitable MTA fare hikes. For those who stay in touch with transit news, this comes as no surprise as we have known that 2013 would see increases across the board.

While official numbers have yet to be put out by the agency for a vote, potential details have been leaked. Some of the potential highlights (or lowlights according to most) include the cost of a 30-day Metrocard going up to $112 ($8 increase) & the base fare going up to $2.50 ($.25 increase). Here is more via Ted Mann of the Wall Street Journal:

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota is pressing for a slate of fare increases that would bump the cost of an unlimited monthly MetroCard to $112, but preserve a small discount for riders who pay per-ride.

Mr. Lhota has been calling MTA board members since last week about the agency’s choices for raising fare and toll revenue.

The MTA’s budget requires $450 million from increased fares and tolls in 2013, though the agency now plans to raise $382 million, thanks to better-than-anticipated revenues that prompted it to push the fare boost back until March.

According to people who have spoken with Mr. Lhota, some of the details of the new fare plan are close to final:

• A monthly unlimited ride MetroCard would go up to $112 from $104.

• A weekly unlimited ride card would rise by a dollar—to $30 from $29.

• The base fare for a subway and bus ride would rise to $2.50 from $2.25.

• And the bonus awarded to riders when they put cash on a pay-per-ride card would shrink to 5% from 7% of the amount added.

One board member said Mr. Lhota had seemed to agree with one move to protect low-income riders: lowering the cost at which the bonus kicks in to as little as $5.

Still undecided, one person familiar with the discussions said, is the question of how much to raise tolls on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge between Brooklyn and Staten Island. Holding down the increase on that crossing would require the MTA to make up the revenue elsewhere, possibly by raising tolls slightly more than anticipated on other bridges in the regional system.

Train fares on Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road would also rise, by 8.2% to 9.3%, according to proposals first reviewed in October.

The proposal being solidified in private conversations by Mr. Lhota and board members is similar to the first option in a menu of choices initially shown to the MTA board in October. The board will vote on a final proposal Dec. 19.

Click here for the complete report.

The latest numbers from the fare hike come as no surprise to me considering what I had been reading & hearing over the last couple of months. I knew that the hikes were unavoidable & I feel most knowledgeable people knew the same. The only question would be how much more would we be paying?

I understand that times are tough economically but when it comes to bus & subway service, the costs are pretty decent considering the 24×7 access we have. Could the service use a lot of improvement? Yes, is the obvious answer on that. However many other parts of the country & world for that matter would love to have the same access we do.

My true beef with any sort of fare hikes focuses on the commuter railroads which have proven time & time again to be overpriced. For the amount & quality of service we get, the last thing we should be doing is paying more! The current prices are beyond ridiculous much less the near 10% increase that looms large in 2013.

We will know what the official increase numbers will be leading up to December 19th when the board puts them up for a vote. Stay tuned for more as it becomes available.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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