Updated 09/12/2012 06:16 PM
MTA May Pull MetroCard Discounts To Close Budget Gap
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering reducing or eliminating MetroCard discounts in an effort to close a growing budget gap and MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota wants to put the issue to a public debate next month. NY1's Tina Redwine filed the following report.
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With a budget to balance, MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota is taking aim at MetroCard discounts.
"Now, the stated fare price is $2.25," Lhota said. "The average revenue we receive per rider is $1.63. So it shows the depth of our discount system that goes on."
This is the first shot in the struggle over what combination of fare and toll increases will start in March that will annually generate $450 million.
"I think we really need a discussion about 'do we need a discount that is that deep?'" Lhota said.
Lhota is targeting what's known as pay-as-you-go cards, which give riders who spend more than $10 at a time a 7 percent bonus.
Gene Russianoff, the head of the Straphangers Campaign, said it's a sneaky way for the MTA to try to disguise a fare hike.
"The pay-for-ride discount is the one discount that is accessible to low-income people," Russianoff said. "It is a lot harder to find the bucks to come up with $29 for the weekly pass or $104 for the 30-day pass."
Riders weren't happy.
"What about the person who can't afford the weekly because they only go one place and back?" one rider said.
"We don't pay tax dollars for nothing," said a second. "That's going to be very bad for us."
But someone is still going to have to pay more because the MTA says even if all discounts were eliminated, its $2.25 base fare will still have to go up.
The MTA will present the fare options in mid-October. The MTA will hold public hearings on the options in November. And in December, the MTA board will decide which fare and toll hike package gets implemented next year.