Complex Plans Unveiled; Hearings Planned
Fares for subways and buses and bridge tolls would be raised again under a set of proposals announced on Monday, Oct. 15 by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
“Costs that the MTA does not exercise control over, namely those for debt service, pensions, energy, paratransit, and employee and retiree health care, continue to increase beyond the rate of inflation,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota in a statement explaining the proposed hikes. “We are grappling with long-term measures to reduce these frustrating and difficult non-discretionary expenses, but today, they are the drivers of the need for a fare and toll increase.”
Fares were most recently increased in 2010, and the agency also also implemented steep service cuts in recent years in an attempt to balance its books. The MTA is also rely- ing on a “payroll mobility tax” which a state court struck down in August; the agency is currently appealing the ruling.
The fare and toll proposals will be the subject of a public review process that will last through mid-December. The proposals will be subject to modification after the public review process and will be considered for adoption by the MTA Board of Directors at its Dec. 19 meeting.
The new fare and toll rates would go into effect on or about Mar. 1, 2013.
“The public will have significant input into our decision-making process. In the spirit of transparency, the public will assist in shaping our fare policy,” said Lhota. “These proposals have been designed to balance our need for revenue with public involvement. We need to hear from the public. Feedback evaluating the specific alternatives we’ve put forward is particularly useful, but we value all our customers’ input, and we’ll consider changes to our proposals based on what we hear and read.”
Subways and buses
The MTA has unveiled four proposals for subway and local bus fares-dubbed 1A, 1B, 2A and 2B- each of which is projected to increase revenue by the same aggregate amount.
Proposal 1A would raise the base fare from $2.25 to $2.50. The bonus discount would remain unchanged, effectively providing a per-trip fare of $2.34. Under this proposal, the cost of a 30-day unlimited MetroCard would rise to $112 and the seven-day card’s cost would rise to $30.
Proposal 1B would also raise the base fare to $2.50. The bonus discount would be eliminated but the in- creases to time-based cards would be lower. The 30-day would rise to $109 and the seven-day card’s cost would remain unchanged.
Proposals 2A and 2B would keep the base fare at $2.25. Proposal 2A would reduce the bonus discount by five percent, effectively increasing the per-trip fare to $2.14. Under this proposal, the 30-day unlimited MetroCard would rise to $125 and the seven-day card would rise to $34. Under Proposal 2B, the bonus discount would be eliminated, the 30- day card would rise to $119, and the seven-day would rise to $32.
Under all proposals, the $1 surcharge for purchasing a new Metro- Card-designed to encourage New Yorkers to refill their existing cards and reduce litter and MetroCard production costs-would be implemented.
The per-trip Access-A-Ride fare would remain the same as the base fare on subways and local buses. Under Proposals 1A and 1B, it would rise to $2.50. Under Proposals 2A and 2B, it would remain unchanged from the current fare of $2.25.
The MTA is also proposing two service changes: the permanent extension of the G train to the Church Avenue station at all times, and the creation of a new bus route in Hunts Point in the Bronx.
LIRR & Metro-North
Fares to ride the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad are based on the distance traveled, with discounts for traveling during less busy off-peak times. Discounted monthly or weekly unlimited-ride tickets will remain available, as will one-way and round-trip tickets, discounted if bought as 10-trip tickets.
Under the fare increase proposal, the cost of most tickets would rise by 8.19 to 9.31 percent.
In addition, the cost of a CityTicket- which provides a discounted fare of $3.75 for travel within the New York City limits-would be increased by up to 25 cents.
A new Active Military Duty Fare would be established. Military personnel would be able to show their dentification to a ticket agent and receive off-peak fare during peak periods.
There are no proposals to change existing ticket validity periods (currently 180 days) or refund policies.
MTA Bridges and Tunnels
The MTA’s proposed increases to tolls would maintain existing discounts for E-ZPass users.
E-ZPass tolls for cars crossing the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, Throgs Neck Bridge, Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and the Queens Midtown Tunnel would rise to $5.30 from the current $4.80. Cash tolls would rise to $7.50 from the current $6.50. This table summarizes the proposal.
The round-trip tolls collected at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge would be the same as those on the five MTA-operated bridges and tunnels. Because eastbound (Brooklynbound) travel is free of charge on the bridge, the westbound (Staten Islandbound) toll rate is twice the amounts listed above.
Staten Island residents would continue to receive significant discounts when using the bridge. The Staten Island Resident E-ZPass toll would rise to $6.36 from the current $5.76. The rate for Staten Islanders using resident tokens would rise to $8.52 from the current $7.72.
At the Marine ParkwayGil Hodges Memorial Bridge and the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, the E-ZPass rate would rise to $1.99 from the current $1.80, and the cash rate would rise to $3.75 from the current $3.25.
Significant discounts would remain in place for residents of the Rockaways and Broad Channel, and the Rockaway and Broad Channel residents with registered E-ZPasses would continue to have their Cross Bay Bridge tolls rebated.
The base express bus fare is currently $5.50 (effectively $5.14 with the MetroCard bonus discount), and a seven-day unlimited-ride Express Bus Plus MetroCard valid on express buses, subways and local buses is $50.
Under Proposals 1A and 1B, the base fare would rise to $6. In Proposal 1A, the effective per-trip cost of an express bus ride would rise 47 cents to $5.61 with the unchanged MetroCard bonus discount, and the seven-day Express Bus Plus Metro- Card would rise to $55. Under Proposal 1B, the bonus discount is eliminated and the effective per-trip cost would rise 86 cents to be the same as the base fare of $6.00.
Under these proposals, the cost of the seven-day pass would rise to $52.
Under Proposals 2A and 2B, the base fare would remain unchanged. Under Proposal 2A, the per-trip cost of an express bus ride would rise 10 cents to $5.24, and the seven-day pass would xost customers $57. Under Proposal 2A, which eliminates the bonus discount, the effective pertrip cost would rise 36 cents to $5.50, while the seven-day pass would rise to $55.
Public Review Process
The MTA’s public review process will enable MTA Board members to receive testimony delivered at eight public hearings, written statements accepted via email and regular mail. MTA Board members will also receive transcripts created by testimony submitted via videotapes recorded by the public at MTA facilities.
The eight public hearings will be held between Nov. 7 and 15 throughout the MTA’s service territory. There will be one in each of the five boroughs, and one each on Long Island and in the northern suburbs east and west of the Hudson River.
The hearings will be held at fully ADA-accessible locations starting at 5 p.m., and will last until 9 p.m., or as long as there are registered speakers who have not yet spoken. Registration to speak will be open between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. at each hearing, or members of the public can register in advance by calling 1-718-521-3333 between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
The Brooklyn hearing will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at the Brooklyn Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, located at 333 Adams St. in Downtown Brooklyn. The Queens hearing will take place on Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel located at 135- 20 39th Ave. in Flushing.
For a full list of hearing locations, as well as locations where residents can offer videotaped testimony, visit www.mta.info.
Members of the public can submit written comments via the MTA’s website, or register to speak at a public hearing by calling 1-718-521- 3333 between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Those who wish to submit a comment via letter are asked to send it to MTA Government Affairs, 347 Madison Avenue, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10017.