MTA Fare Hike Not As Bad As It Sounds
There is good reason for “Reports: Fare Hike Plan Imminent” (Dec. 13 issue, available at www.timesnewsweekly.com).
For decades, under numerous past Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Five Year Capital Plans, both the city and state collectively cut billions of their own respective financial contributions. They repeatedly had the MTA refinance or borrow funds to acquire scarce capital funding formerly made up by hard cash from both City Hall and Albany.
For those public officials who oppose any fare increases, just how would you assist the MTA in balancing current financial shortfalls? Which capital improvement projects would you propose the MTA cancel to help balance the budget and avoid fare increases? Which route(s) would you support service reductions to save operating dollars? Would you volunteer to reduce service, cancel or delay any capital projects benefiting constituents in your district? How many public officials have a Metro Card and ride the system like millions of constituents do on a daily basis?
MTA services are still one of the best bargains in town. Since the 1950s, the average cost of riding either the bus, subway or commuter rail has gone up at a lower rate than either the consumer price index or inflation. The Metro Card introduced in 1996 affords a free transfer between bus and subway. Prior to this, riders had to pay two full fares. Purchasing either a weekly or monthly pass further reduces the cost per ride. Many employers offer transit checks, which pay even more of your costs.
Fare hikes are probably justified if the MTA is to provide the services millions of New Yorkers on a daily basis count on. Fare hikes are inevitable due to inflation along with increasing costs of labor, power, fuel, supplies, materials, routine safety, state of good repair, replacement of worn out rolling stock, upgrades to stations, yards and shops along with system expansion projects necessary to run any transit system.
In the end, quality and frequency of service is dependent upon secure revenue streams. We all will have to contribute—be it at the fare box or tax revenues generated by different levels of government redistributed back to the MTA.
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