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MTA Considers Fare Hike Options, Including $125 Monthly MetroCard

You'll Get To Debate 4 Proposals, But Odds Are You Won't Like Any Of Them
Subway turnstile at Penn Station (credit: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880)

Subway turnstile at Penn Station (credit: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – When it comes to public transportation, one thing is certain, Metropolitan Transportation Authority fares are definitely going up.

But the big question is how much?

The cash-strapped agency plans to release four different proposals and let the public weigh in about what they want. CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer broke down the numbers on Tuesday and found out many think there is nothing fair about any of it.

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane On The Story

A subway horn might as well be a loud Bronx cheer for the MTA’s planned subway fare hikes, but this time the agency says it’s trying to make it as palatable as possible.

“Going in to this we want to hear from the public, what they would rather see raised more or less than other parts of the fare structure,” MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said.

MTA brass know the move to raise $450 million at the fare box is unpopular to say the least, so they’ve decided to put out four plans next week and let straphangers comment on the features they like the least.

“This time you’re getting all the information we get. There’s nothing up anybody’s sleeve. This is all cards on the table. I think this is the way we should treat our riders,” MTA board member Fernando Ferrer said.

The first option would leave the base fare at $2.25. A monthly MetroCard would be $125, a $21 increase and an unlimited weekly would be $34, a $5 hike.

“Insane. I’m speechless. I have nothing else to say,” one commuter told WCBS 880 reporter Paul Murnane on Tuesday.

“The MTA is a big company so whatever they want to do, they’re going to do it,” commuter Andrew Behm told CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey reported Tuesday night.

However, other riders said transit would still be a good option against a taxi or driving, adding $125 a month isn’t bad.

“I think it is. It’s why we have it so crowded,” the man said. “If the cost goes up, the riders need to pay for it. So, I’m one of the riders. I will pay what I need.”

“I understand it, but I’d rather it not happen,” said Michael Emrich of the Upper West Side.

1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports

The second proposal would also leave the base at $2.25 and charge $119 for the monthly, $32 for the weekly and reduce the per-ride MetroCard bonus from 7 percent to 5 percent.

Two other options raise the base fare to $2.50, with lesser rates for monthly and weekly cards.

Officials said that based on public input they can craft a fare structure that makes the most sense. It could be mix and match.

“Public participation is crucial. I know I’m going to be listening to suggestions from the public,” MTA board member Allen Cappelli said.

What do riders want to save the most?

“I would say a discount on the monthly would be the best because that would address the people who commute all the time,” said Jane King of the Upper West Side.

Claud McDaniel of the Bronx added, “$2.25 is okay but $2.50? No.”

“I want my senior discount and I want the monthly,” another rider said.

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said he sees a solution to riders’ pain.

“It really is time for Gov. Cuomo and the state Legislature to come to our rescue,” he said. “We pay more of the costs of operating the system than any transit system in America.”

The MTA said it has cut expenses, saving the agency hundreds of millions of dollars. Russianoff said he wonders how much more there is to cut.

“Enough is enough. If this fare hike goes through, it’ll be the fourth increase in five years,” Russianoff said.

No matter what the actual fare hike looks like it will go into effect on March 1.

The MTA will formally announce all its fare hike proposals on Monday. In addition to buses and subways, tolls on the agency’s nine bridges and tunnels will rise, as will Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North tickets.

“When you gotta pay your staff, when you gotta pay debt service, when you gotta pay expenses, somebody has to pay them,” the MTA’s Ferrer said.

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