Fare Increase Weighs Heavily on NYers Who Struggle to Make Ends Meet

The bus and subway fare increase announced by the MTA on Wednesday is weighing heavily on New Yorkers who struggle to make ends meet. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

For nearly two months, Kutira Graham has been looking for work.

"Trying to keep my head up and just keep on applying," she said.

The 26-year-old Brooklyn woman says she's had to cut back on buying groceries because getting around by mass transit comes first as she looks for a job in the nonprofit field.

"I need to get to my interviews, especialy in Manhattan. I need to take the subway or the bus," she said.

But as the MTA prepares to hike fares again, with the price of a ride likely rising 25 cents in March to $3, using mass transit promises to be even more of a challenge for low-income riders like Graham.

"Sometimes, because I want to, like, save money, I will just walk to my interview, and sometimes that can be 30 minutes to an hour and a half," she said.

Never mind being able to afford a 30-day unlimited MetroCard, which will increase $4.50 to $121, or even a seven-day pass, which will rise $1 to $32. 

"It's too expensive for me right now," Graham said.

The fare hike plan has given new urgency to a proposal by advocates who want the city to provide a new subsidy to the MTA so low-income riders can enjoy reduced fares.

MTA Board Member David Jones, who runs the Community Service Society, says a so-called Fair Fare is needed since a $3 ride would be too big a hurdle for many riders.

"That's a lot of money, particularly for people who even fall further below the poverty line. That starts to become prohibitive," Jones said. "Particularly when you have multiple family members, this can add up exponentially."

MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said transit systems around the country are grappling with how to provide for low-income riders.

"It's not for lack of want to provide a service that is in tremendous need for somebody. It's the ability to provide that service and fund that service," Prendergast said.

As for Graham, she's going to keep riding, and hoping. And come March 19, by the time that next fare increase takes effect, Graham hopes to be on firmer financial footing by being able to pull down a regular paycheck. 

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