But Not All The News Is Good: CBS2 Has Learned Costs To Use Transit Agency's 7 Bridges And 2 Tunnels Are Expected To RiseBy Marcia Kramer

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is reportedly planning a little coronavirus pandemic surprise for millions of mass transit riders later this week, and while it won’t cause “pandemonium,” it will be very welcome news.

Now entering the station on the express track is COVID-19 relief for millions of subway, bus and train riders. Sources told CBS2’s Marcia Kramer on Monday that the MTA is expected to forgo the anticipated 4% rate hike due to go into affect in the next few months, at least for now.

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“In light of the COVID economy, this is not the right time to raise for us to raise fares. We want to help low-income workers who depend on mass transit,” a highly placed source said.

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Ridership across the system is still down substantially.

  • Only 1.6 million people ride the subway, down 76%
  • 950,000 ride buses, down 58%
  • The Long Island Rail Road is down 76%
  • Metro-North is down 80% from the 300,000 riders per day per line before the pandemic.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

But not everyone will get a free pass. Sources told Kramer the tolls on the MTA’s seven bridges and two tunnels are expected to rise.

Bridges and tunnels have been the least impacted by the pandemic, as usage is down only 16% from the 310 million vehicle crossings each year.

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“If there’s a toll increase, it’s good for the city, not for us,” a taxi driver said. “It’s a bad idea for us. We will make less money.”

“I feel like this should hold a while because of what’s going on in the pandemic and everybody’s feeling it right now, right?” another person said.

“Right now, with the COVID and the economy so bad, people got to travel and commute with the relative sometimes. They share a ride and that just adds fire to the fire,” said Genevieve Lamantia of the Upper West Side.

“I feel it’s not justifiable for everybody. I have to pay for every trip I do,” added Philbere Fredeick of Brooklyn.

“How can I raise the fair anymore than they already have? We really have to change our tax system to make the wealthy pay more,” another woman said.

The MTA board is expected to vote Thursday and while there’s talk about no budget-related layoffs and service cuts, the need to right-size train service due to reduced ridership may affect train frequency on the railroads.

CBS2’s Marcia Kramer contributed to this report

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