MTA unveils 4 proposals for 2013's fare hike, seeks public input
The MTA delivered a harsh blow to straphangers yesterday when it unveiled its four proposals for next year's fare hike, and virtually evert rider will feel the pinch regardless of which one is chosen.
Two of the four plans would leave the base MetroCard fare at its current $2.25 and shift much of the burden to weekly and monthly card buyers, hiking a monthly MetroCard to as high as $125 - a more than 20% jump from the current $104.
The other two plans would increase the base fare to $2.50 and spread increases across more options, such as increasing a single ride ticket to $2.75 from $2.50.
All four plans, each of would raise $277 million over a full year, also include a new $1 surcharge to buy a new MetroCard.
The MTA will hold eight public hearings in November for commuters to weigh in on the options, starting on Nov. 7.
The plans will then go before the MTA's board Dec. 19 with the approved proposal expected to go into effect March 1.
MTA chief Joe Lhota said that painful as they are, the hikes are unavoidable.
"We want to keep the fare increase limited as much as possible. The only way that we won't be able to do that is if we get to see any increased subsidies from Albany," Lhota said.
Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign, often a thorn in the MTA's side, agreed with Lhota, saying that the state and the city have put the agency in a tough position.
"It's not the MTA's fault here, I think they've cut hundreds of millions of dollars in waste and are running a more efficient operation, but they're just not getting enough money from Albany and city hall," Russianoff said.
Still, he wasn't happy with the increases.
"I think riders are gonna be pretty ticked off. This is the fourth increase in five years, and it feels like you're just putting money into a gumball machine," he said.
New Yorkers scoffed at the hikes.
"It's not like they're making the trains or rides better, they're just charging more for the same thing," said Brandon Jerez, 18, of midtown, who buys mostly single-ride tickets.
He added: "And now they want to make us pay for their budget?"
Andrea Williams, 33, of Williamsburg, uses a monthly card, and said it's unfair that the cost of a monthly could go so high.
"A lot of people buy the monthlies to actually save money, so it doesn't make sense to basically cancel that out," she said.
Bridge tolls also increase in the proposal. On major MTA crossings, including the RFK, Throgs Neck and Bronx-Whitestone bridges, cash tolls would increase a dollar to $7.50 and E-ZPass would increase 50 cents to $5.30. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge will also increase, with cash toll rising $2 to $15 and E-ZPass a dollar to $10.60.
The MTA will hold eight public hearings during November for commuters to discuss the four fare hike proposals.
Date: Nov. 7
Time: 5 p.m.
Locations: Brooklyn, NY Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge (333 Adams St.); Long Island, Roosevelt Hall - Little Theater Farmingdale State College (2350 Broadhollow Road Farmingdale)
Date: Nov. 13
Time: 5 p.m.
Locations: Manhattan, Baruch Performing Arts Center (17 Lexington Ave.); Bronx, Main Theater at Hostos Community College Center for the Arts and Culture (450 Grand Concourse)
Date: Nov. 14
Time: 5 p.m.
Locations: Staten Island, Center for the Arts, Springer Concert Hall (2800 Victory Blvd.); Newburgh, Hilton Garden Inn at Newburgh/Stewart Airport (15 Crossroads Court)
Date: Nov. 15
Time: 5 p.m.
Locations: Queens, Ballroom at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel (153-20 39th Ave., Flushing); Westchester, Auditorium at the Yonkers Public Library (One Larkin Center)