Base Fare Raise Likely To Pass, MTA Head Says
Updated: Updated 10/22/2012 10:51 PM
By: Tina Redwine
The head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says a hike in the subway and bus base fare makes the most sense for New Yorkers but that a final decision will not be made until the agency hears from the public.
The MTA laid out four possible scenarios for a new fare hike earlier this month, two of which raised the base fare of $2.25 by a quarter to $2.50.
MTA Chairman and CEO Joe Lhota says many New Yorkers do not pay the base fare anyway because they purchase weekly or monthly unlimited MetroCards.
"I'm concerned about the middle class in the city and the folks who commute in within the boroughs and those coming in and out of Manhattan. We need to try to keep the raises to a minimum," Lhota said on Monday.
Last week, Lhota said he also wants to continue a bonus that riders currently get when they put at least $10 on a pay-per-ride card.
He says the increase would affect tourists more than anyone and, even still, riding mass transit in New York is a bargain if one considers what other cities charge.
"One of the things that we as New Yorkers don't take well to is comparing New York to anywhere else so I really don't want to get involved in comparing," said Lhota. "But if you do go to London, you'll pay a lot more on their underground than you will on the New York City Subway."
Only one of the four fare hike proposals that the MTA is considering would keep a bonus and raise the base fare. Beside the 25-cent increase in the base far, 30-day MetroCards would increase from $104 to $112 and seven-day MetroCards would cost $30, a dollar more than the current cost.
In this option, the pay-per-ride bonus would stay at 7 percent.
Straphangers had mixed reactions.
"It disproportionately affects the people who can't afford a monthly pass. So bottom line, it's causing a greater harm on those people that can least afford it," said one subway rider.
"With the single fares and the weekly fares you're going to get the largest increase from the tourists and people who don't live in the city full time," said another.
The Straphangers Campaign has argued against raising the base fare, but on Monday its spokesperson, Gene Russianoff, would only say he is pleased Lhota wants to keep the pay-per-ride discount which benefits the less fortunate.
"At this point I want to listen to the riders and see what the people who testify and send in comments. We're in a listening phase, which the MTA board and its chairman should be also," said Russianoff.
A vote will take place in December with the winning proposal taking effect on March 1.
Public hearings will take place leading up to the vote.
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