New York’s MTA to Debate Fare Hike, Again

New York’s MTA to Debate Fare Hike, Again

By Yehudit Garmaise

     In two and a half weeks, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will once again consider whether the debt-ridden agency should increase fares.

     A month after Congress agreed to provide the MTA with $4 billion in aid as part of the latest coronavirus relief package, on Jan. 21, MTA board members will discuss, and maybe vote on, whether toll and fare increases are appropriate as an added measure to climb out from its $1.4 billion debt.

   Regardless of whether the nation’s largest public transportation system receives any additional federal money, every two years, the MTA has already planned, pending board approval, to increase its fares and tolls by 4%, to what it 2021, is a $17 billion budget.

   In a year in which New York’s Department of Labor has reported that the rate of unemployment in New York City increased from 3.6% in November of 2019 to 12.1 in November of 2020, however, several MTA board members have spoken out against increases in fares and tolls. 

     “This is not the time to raise fares because our riders can’t afford it,” said board member Neal Zuckerman, a senior partner and managing director at Boston Consulting Group.

    Zuckerman also explained that the revenue that the MTA would gain from a 4% fare and toll increase could not begin to make up for the 75% decline in New Yorkers use of public transportation in a pandemic. 

    A 4% fare hike would bring in an estimated $48 million of additional revenue in 2021, so if fares and tolls are not increased, the MTA will need to find that revenue elsewhere.

(Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)

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