NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In a surprise of sorts, members of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board voted Wednesday to keep base MetroCard fares at $2.75 while decreasing rider bonuses, rejecting an alternative plan that would have raised the base fare to $3.
But as CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, commuters will likely feel the impact of the fare hike in other ways. A weekly MetroCard is going up $1 to $32, and a monthly pass is up $4.50 to $121.
MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast believes the hike is fair.
“This is the lowest fare and toll increase we’ve had in the last number of years, but cost increases within the rate of inflation,” he said.
Tolls and commuter rail fares are going up modest amounts, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
Commuters expressed concerns before the vote about what and increase would mean for their wallets.
“The costs are rising and rising but the service is, to some degree, deteriorating,” one commuter said.
“I think it really stinks,” another commuter said. “The service is getting worse and the fares are going up.”
“They might as well go for $5, it’s creeping that way,” another rider said. “Why play games?”
“I would expect increased services from MTA, but I know that’s not going to happen,” said one rider.
“I have to travel, how do we do this?” another rider said.
“We’re not getting anything for our money. The service is horrible and MTA line their pockets enough. They don’t have to take it out on us straphangers,” rider Joanne Liven of Yonkers.
In fact, a budget deal cut in 2009 requires the MTA Board to increase fares and tolls every two years. This year, the goal was to boost revenue by 4 percent.
The money goes mostly to pay increases for MTA workers.
“The cost of living is the cost of living. We have a labor force that is in large part of the equation,” Prendergast said. “We need them. They deserve fair raises.”
The board looked at a plan A that maintained the base bus and subway fare, and a plan B that boosted it by 25 cents. The board chose plan A.
But the hikes in weekly and monthly passes were still a problem for some commuters.
“We’re not getting anything for our money. The service is horrible and MTA line their pockets enough. They don’t have to take it out on us straphangers,” rider Joanne Liven of Yonkers said.
“I can’t even afford a monthly MetroCard anymore. So I have to see am I going to get to work or am I going to eat? Am I going to pay rent? How am I supposed to get to work? It’s a struggle,” said Yolanda Ross, who travels from the Bronx everyday to work at Walgreen in Times Square. “They have to stop beating up on the people who are already struggling. I am one of them, sometimes I want to cry.”
Some told CBS2’s Dave Carlin that they think any increase is a ripoff.
“I think it’s absurd all that this money and the trains are still delayed — all these problems in the morning rush – it’s just unacceptable,” said Jillian Wakmin of Bellerose, Long Island.
“At least show the customers where the money is going,” added a man in Penn Station.
Some were also disappointed in the loss of the MetroCard refill bonuses.
“I’m not happy about it, but what can I do?” said Marcus Velazquez of Tottenville, Staten Island.
In the bonuses, riders lose 14 cents in discount money from each ride. So if you’ve been getting a ride free for every 10 you take, it will now take 20 rides to get the freebie.
“Take away the bonus, you’re not going to notice it, but it’s going up,” said Gary Desrosieos of Midtown. “What are you going to do?”
Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road commuters will see fares increase by up to 3.75 percent. A monthly from New Rochelle to Grand Central Terminal increases by $8 to $239, while a monthly from Garden City to Penn Station increases from $252 to $261.
On the roads, most cash tolls at the bridges and tunnels will jump by 50 cents to a dollar, while the E-ZPass discount will be cut by about 25 cents.
One driver was OK with that.
“We have to pay for roads! We have to pay for bridges! So I think that’s fair,” the driver said.
Others are in favor of the rate hike because of overwhelming obstacles presented by failing infrastructure, like broken elevators.
“If the elevator is broke at 125th Street, I gotta go there then go to 161st to the Bronx and go all the way back downtown,” another rider said. “It’s too much for someone who is disabled and paralyzed and all that.”
Since 2005, the cost of a MetroCard has jumped by 50 percent.
The new prices would go into effect on March 19.
And because of the 2009 budget deal, another fare hike is coming in 2019.