Thursday, July 10, 2014

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IBO, Mass Transit Advocate Group Report Speculates On Future MTA Fares

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Fresh off a fare hike this spring, bus and subway riders are looking at two more scheduled fare increases coming their way in the next four years, But a group of mass transit advocates are looking even farther ahead, and they don't like what they see. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

The Straphangers Campaign thinks subway and bus riders will be paying $3.75 for a subway or bus ride or $168 for a monthly MetroCard a decade from now if the MTA keeps hitting straphangers with fare hikes every other year.

"These fares are too damn high, to paraphrase a candidate for mayor," said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign. "Constant fare hikes will burden the riders, will discourage people from using mass transit, and is just not sustainable in the long run."

Right now, the MTA is planning to raise fares in 2015 and 2017. But what about after that? The advocacy group asked the city's Independent Budget Office to estimate what would happen later without increased aid from Albany.

"Without that aid, the MTA might as well start making announcements that there's a fare hike right behind this one," Russianoff said.

But the MTA said not necessarily.

"What the IBO and what Straphangers acknowledge very clearly in this report is that it's purely hypothetical," said Adam Lisberg, an MTA spokesperson. "This is simply saying, 'Here's what's happened in the past. If you extrapolate that into the future, this is what it would get to.'"

If you take inflation into account, the agency says, the fare is 18 percent less than what it cost in 1996, when the fare was $1.50.

The MTA uses the word "moderate" to describe its most recent fare bumps, but no matter what you call them, most riders NY1 spoke with aren't quite ready to paying more per ride.

"It is very too much, especially for those unemployed," said one person. "They're not going to be able to afford it, and they're not going to be able to buy the subway and commute in the city."

"It's very difficult for a lot of people," said another. "Sometimes, you see people in the subway, they can't even pay the fare. They have to ask people to let them in or give them $1 or 50 cents."

"How do they expect us to get around with this money to get around if you keep raising it?" said a third.

The MTA is quick to remind riders that it's put close to $50 million into restoring some service that was cut in 2010, but many riders might ask, "How is that going to help me if I can't afford the ride?"

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