The MTA is a defacto 4th level of government that taxes hard working New Yorkers every bit as much as the federal, state, and local governments do. The MTA levies income taxes, sales taxes, real estate transfer taxes, and it charges for all of its services with fares and tolls. Oy gevalt!
December 23, 2008
M.T.A. Details Proposed Increases, and Invites Public Comment
By WILLIAM NEUMAN
Proposals being considered by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) could raise the base subway and bus fare as high as $3, the 30-day MetroCard to $105 and bridge and tunnel tolls to $7 next year.
The MTA is thinking of charging the new top fare of up to $3 only to people who buy one ride at a time on subways or buses; those who put multiple rides on their MetroCards would pay up to $2.50.
The proposed maximum fares and tolls were released on Monday in a notice providing the schedule for eight public hearings, beginning Jan. 14 in Manhattan, for discussion on the authority’s planned increases as well as an array of service cuts intended to close a projected $1.2 billion shortfall next year.
The plan calls for increasing overall fare and toll revenues by 23 percent. The notice gave the maximum level to which different fares and tolls could rise to reach that goal, including $105 for a 30-day unlimited ride MetroCard, up from $81. A weekly MetroCard could rise to as much as $32, up from $25.
The hearing notice said the base subway and bus fare could rise as high as $3, from $2. It also said the authority might set a separate fare of up to $2.50 for pay-per-ride MetroCards.
Some fares on Metro-North Railroad and the LIRR could rise by as much as a third, the notice said.
One-way tolls on major bridges and tunnels — including the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly the Triborough Bridge) — could rise as high as $7, although the notice did not explain how rates would differ for drivers using E-ZPass. Drivers who use cash currently pay $5, and those with E-ZPass pay $4.15.
In the coming days, when the MTA gets around to making a more detailed proposal public, in at least some cases the increases are likely to be smaller than those in the notice. The authority expects to make the detailed proposal public next week.
Jeremy Soffin, an authority spokesman, said the authority released the hearing notice now to give the public time to prepare.
Gene Russianoff, the staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, a transit rider advocacy group, said the maximum changes could result in uneven increases for different kinds of fares or services.
Charging $105 for a 30-day MetroCard would be an increase of 30 percent. In contrast, New York City Transit express bus fares would rise to a maximum of $6.25, from $5, a 25 percent increase. The authority had previously contemplated a larger express bus increase but kept it lower at the request of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
Mr. Russianoff also criticized a provision that would allow the minimum purchase needed to receive a bonus on the pay-per-ride MetroCard to rise as high as $12.50, which he said could put it out of reach of many riders.
The notice said that the pay-per-ride bonus could be set as high as 35 percent or could be eliminated altogether. Currently, riders who put at least $7 on a pay per ride MetroCard receive a 15% bonus.