The new year for transit will bring challenges in handling a growing ridership with unique demands on top of a fare hike. These are set to be some of the biggest stories across the city in 2015.
Fare hikes: The riding public will be forced to pay a bit more for transit next year when the MTA puts in place a 4% fare hike that could mean a $2.75 ride with an 11% cash bonus and a 30-day MetroCard that costs $116.50. Riders will face this new price for two years until the next planned fare hike in 2017.
Capital ideas: Officials will be asking government at all levels for help in coming up with the $15 billion the MTA needs for a $32 billion blueprint through 2019 for fixing up stations and equipment, buying new train cars and continuing Second Avenue Subway construction.
No. 7 train goes west: It’s been more than a year since Mayor Michael Bloomberg got the first (ceremonial) ride on the new leg of the No. 7 train to the far West Side from Times Square. Riders can expect to take a trip on the first expansion of the subway system in decades by April at the earliest — unless the MTA has to push off the opening date.
Overcrowding: Transit officials are sensing that the days in the past few months when subway ridership cracked 6 million are becoming the new normal. Riders in 2015 can expect to see how the MTA will deal with the subway crunch in the short term, such as public awareness ads against taking up too much space and more platform workers to get people in and out of train cars quickly.
Weekends in Brooklyn: Traveling to and from Bushwick and Williamsburg will get easier when the J train this spring starts running through the new Fulton Center hub, with transfers to eight other train lines.
Select Bus to grow: At least two new faster bus routes, known as Select Bus Service, are expected to be installed this year along 86th Street in Manhattan and Utica Avenue in Brooklyn, according to transportation officials. The DOT meanwhile will be building local support for Select Bus routes in Flushing-Jamaica and on Woodhaven Boulevard.
Taxi hacked: “Disrupt” was more than catchy tech lingo for Uber, Lyft and other taxi app companies in 2014, when taxi officials and lawmakers scrambled to regulate their operations. That will continue next year as the City Council considers capping “surge” pricing during high-demand times, restricting drivers’ ability to work for multiple services, and getting the city to create its own e-hail app for yellow and green taxis.
Citi Bike steps on the pedal: City officials this year trumpeted a plan to turn around and expand Citi Bike, which was a money-losing operation that struggled to live up to its popularity thanks to technology woes and uneven reliability. Before Citi Bike can expand by 2017, new executives led by ex-MTA chief Jay Walder must show they can improve the city’s bike share in 2015. The team vowed an overhaul of bike and dock space and has hired an executive to focus on technology.