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MTA Chairman Warns Of Possible 12 Percent Fare Hike Next Year

Riders Say They Are Not Prepared To Pay $2.75 A Subway Ride, Nor Should They
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Ready to pay $2.75 for a subway ride? It could happen sooner than you think.

At a legislative budget hearing in Albany on Thursday, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Thomas Prendergast said issues between the agency and labor unions could result in an almost 12 percent fare hike next year, three times more than planned.

He said the hike could happen if the agency has to give all workers modest raises without work rule changes that would produce an equal amount in savings.

“This would be a terrible choice for our customers and our region,” he said. “Employees deserve raises, but we need to do that in a way that balances our budget and doesn’t put our financial plan in risk.”

MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer proposed raises for Long Island Rail Road workers of 2.8 percent would be retroactive to 2010. Union workers have been without a contract for three and a half years. Earlier this month, the MTA rejected a White House mediator’s proposal to end the dispute.

Both sides are now in a cooling off period before a second appointed mediator will likely make another attempt to reach a deal.

If the two sides are still at an impasse in July, the unions could legally go on strike.

“The unions are prepared as we have been prepared for anything that comes our way,” United Transportation Union General Chairman Anthony Simon said earlier this month. “All of our strike captains are in place. We’re hoping to never use them.”

The potential 12 percent increase would work out to $2.75 for a subway ride, up from the current fare of $2.50, and $175 a month for an unlimited MetroCard, a$63 increase from the current price of $112.

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign says there has to be a better way.

“There are other solutions. More state aid, more efficient use of their resources,” he told 1010 WINS. “Putting it all on the backs of the riding public is bad for the system and certainly bad for the citizens of New York City.”

Rail and transit riders told Kramer they are not thrilled by the news.

“It’s at a bad time with what’s going on in the economy  and it’s not good. I don’t think people can afford another fare hike. Fare hike not good right now,” East New York resident Sisco Muniz said.

“I don’t love it, but it is what it is. When you live in New York you expect that sort of nonsense. They’re always looking to take, take, take — nothing surprises me,” added David Harrison of Prospect Heights.

Another option could be cutting back on new buses and trains and planned overhauls of stations.

In November last year, the MTA said planned fare hikes would actually be smaller than what was initially announced.

The agency said significant cost-cutting and zero wage increases for its unionized workers would enable them to reduce anticipated fare hikes in 2015 and 2017 from 7.5 percent to 4 percent.

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