Updated 07/25/2012 09:44 PM
MTA Discusses Fare Hike Plans At Meeting
Last week, the MTA won praise for plans to restore some bus and subway service. Now comes the bad news: riders will have to foot the bill with fare hikes next year and every other year thereafter and transit workers will have to go without pay hikes. NY1's Tina Redwine filed the following report.
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MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota may have played Santa Claus in July, handing out service improvement gifts thanks to a big jump in ridership.
But Wednesday, he explained that doesn't mean it will be a free ride for bus and subway riders. Even if it's being delayed two months, riders will still face a fare hike in March and every other year after that.
"The target is to generate an additional $450 million in additional fare and toll revenues," he said.
There's no word yet on how much more that MetroCard could cost. But the MTA budget plan that Lhota outlined at a board meeting amounts to a 7.5 percent increase in revenue from fares and tolls.
Rider groups were quick to complain.
"The percentage of the cost of providing service that is paid by the riders is the highest of any large transit system in the nation," said William Henderson of the Permanent Citizen's Advisory Committee.
It's not just riders that the MTA is counting on to help balance its books. The MTA budget plan also banks on getting transit workers to agree to no wage increases over the next three years.
"If we don’t get that one thing, the net zero labor settlement, our deficits increase by $1.3 billion through this forecast period, money that has to be made up some way, somehow," said MTA Chief Financial Officer Robert Foran.
The MTA wasn't saying how that money will be made up in that case. Of course, the prospect of zero pay hikes doesn't sit will with the transit union.
"We deserve a wage increase that allows us to take care of our families, that allows us to protect our livelihood and live in New York City, which is very difficult," said John Samuelsen, the president of the Transport Workers Union.
The union chief said talks are continuing on the contract that expired in January. Lhota said he expects to have a contract deal sometime before the end of this year.
The MTA will hold hearings in November on the fare and toll increases. The board will vote on them as well as the overall budget in December. If they're approved, they'll go into effect in March.