‘It wasn’t exactly a mugging’: MTA Chair Ferrer says fare and toll increases on the books this spring

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

The MTA board may be keeping single ride swipes the same rate, $2.75, for the time being, members voted in favor of a hike that will charge unlimited weekly and monthly riders more to raise funds for the beleaguered agency.

Commuters will now be up-charged from $32 to $33 for weekly passes while the monthly payments will go up from $121 to $127, and the bonus given to riders for every $5.50 they put on their cards will also be a thing of the past after Wednesday’s board meeting.

“We just implemented a fare and toll increase – it’s painful for a lot of reasons, for a lot of people – but we had to do it, and it is within inflation. So it wasn’t exactly a mugging,” interim MTA Chair Fernando Ferrer said. “However, that’s in the context of all the other actions we are taking and have taken with respect to trimming down our own bureaucracy… We have to step up as well.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a plan, with the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio, that would enact congestion pricing while restructuring the MTA to have term limited board members who would be appointed by local elected officials.

But the plan also put 20 percent inflation increase limit on fares which would prevent MetroCard users from bearing the brunt of any financial troubles the agency might be in.

“It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t consider several alternatives that did come up through the process. That said, I don’t think it’s appropriate to continue putting off the vote because it’s costing us money one way or another,” board member Susan Metzger said.

Board member Peter Ward said any option that raises revenue without impacting riders through a fare increase would be a “grand slam,” but acknowledged that the MTA must act now.

“It is clear that the only way we can make things manage today is by either making cuts, raising taxes or raising fares,” Ward said. “If those are the only three options available to us, then at some point we’re going to be continually faced with the prospect of making some type of cuts. Whether it’s to staff, whether it’s to infrastructure program. At the end of the day, we can’t cut our way out of the problem that we have. The only way to solve our problems is to grow revenue.”

The changes will take effect on April 21, and will also include a 3.85 percent increase on weekly and monthly Long Island Rail Road tickets.

Tolls will see increase by about four percent as well starting March 31.

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