In the broadest sense, the debate over fare increases on New York City subways and buses was over before it began.
Beginning next March, transit officials have said, the fares will be going up. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s budget depends on it.
But the more vexing discussion — of who, exactly, will be asked to pay more — begins in earnest on Monday, when the authority will present four proposals that would raise the required money.
Although the details are subject to change, and the authority may combine components of different proposals before arriving at a final decision, the choices are likely to resemble the following, according to transportation officials with knowledge of the proposals:
¶ The base fare remains at $2.25, but the cost of a 30-day MetroCard rises as high as $125, a $21 increase. A weekly card costs $34, up from $29. In addition, the 7 percent bonus on pay-per-ride MetroCards — which gives a rider an extra $1.40, for example, with each $20 placed on the card — is reduced to 5 percent.
¶ The base fare remains at $2.25; the cost of a 30-day card rises to $119; the cost of a weekly card rises to $32; and the bonus is eliminated altogether.
¶ The base fare rises to $2.50; the cost of a 30-day card rises to $109; the cost of a weekly card remains at $29; and the bonus is eliminated.
¶ The base fare rises to $2.50; the cost of a 30-day card rises to $112; the cost of a weekly card rises to $30; and the bonus remains intact.
In all, changes in fares and in bridge and tunnel tolls are expected to generate $394 million for the authority in the 2013 calendar year. Of this, $232 million will come from New York City Transit, the authority said. An additional $86 million will come from the Bridges and Tunnels division. The rest of the revenue will be raised from the authority’s railroads and other services.
Public hearings will begin in November, and the authority’s board will vote on a final proposal in December.
The authority has not indicated which option it may prefer. But last month, Joseph J. Lhota, the authority’s chairman, appeared to suggest that the pay-per-ride bonus could be in peril.
“Do we really need to give that level of a discount?” he said during a forum discussion at the Plaza Hotel.
Gene Russianoff, the staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, a rider advocacy group, has cautioned against eliminating the bonus, arguing that lower-income riders often rely on pay-per-ride cards because they cannot afford to buy a 30-day card.
Conversely, users of the 30-day card were hit particularly hard in 2010, when the price rose to $104 from $89. One board member, Andrew Albert, said many people who did not necessarily benefit from an unlimited card still bought one “so they don’t have to think about” paying for each ride.
Another member, Allen P. Cappelli, said he was simply grateful that the tenor of the conversation had changed since 2010, when the authority approved deep service cuts amid a budget shortfall.
“We’re not talking about reducing services,” Mr. Cappelli said. “I think that’s good news for New Yorkers.”
Source: The NY Times