MTA board delays vote on proposed fare hike

Posted On Thu, January 24, 2019 By

Posted On Thu, January 24, 2019 By In Policy, Transportation

Via Flickr

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board voted on Thursday to table making a decision on a proposed fare hike until February. The board was set to vote on two proposals to raise NYC subway and bus, Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North fares. But board member Peter Ward said he was worried about increasing fares without looking at alternative revenue options. “I’m concerned we’re making a decision today when we need to be a little bit slower, a little more thoughtful, and consider a few more options,” Ward, who was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said during the board meeting.

To the MTA, a fare hike was seen as a necessary solution to bring in much-needed revenue to the cash-strapped agency. Facing a budget deficit of $991 million by 2022, the MTA announced last year two options for fare and toll increases, as well as possible service cuts.

One option would keep the base fare of MetroCards at $2.75 per ride, but end the bonus for buying a pay-per-ride pass. The second would increase the base fare to $3 and double the bonus to 10 percent. Weekly passes would increase from $32 to $33, with monthly passes jumping from $121 to $127.

This fare hike, which would take effect in March, would be the sixth since 2009 when the state legislature approved a plan that increases fares every other year. It was estimated to bring in an extra $316 million per year.

But a day before the vote was scheduled, Cuomo announced he opposed the fare hike. In an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, Cuomo said, “I have no faith in what they say,” referring to the discussion over a fare increase. And when asked about whether the MTA needs to cut service without the funding, the governor said, “No. Tighten your belt. Make the place run better.”

MTA board member Lawrence Schwartz, also appointed by the governor, said he plans on introducing a new fare proposal that would tie fare increases to service improvements. This would involve rolling back fare hikes if service metrics are not met by the MTA.

Cuomo has called on lawmakers in Albany to pass a congestion pricing plan that would fund transit repairs. Cars entering the busiest streets of Manhattan would be charged more, creating direct revenue for the MTA.

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