MTA Fare Increase Elicits Concern

By Henry Mei ‘18

         Just when you thought you had enough of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) excuses for the inconveniences on your daily commute, they decided to implement fare changes.      

         On January 25, 2017, the MTA board met to discuss proposals about increasing the fare. They were considering two options; one was to raise the base fare to $3 and increasing the bonus you get when you buy or add a roundtrip amount on your MetroCard and the other was to keep the base fare at $2.75 but reducing the bonus. They voted for the latter option-which took effect on March 19, 2017.

         According to the MTA’s website, this is considered the lowest fare increase since 2009, when the MTA first began increasing fares and tolls on a regular biennial basis. The last increase was in 2015 when the $2.50 fare jumped to $2.75. Fares and tolls are essential revenue that support the quality and quantity of service the MTA provides while helping to meet rising costs and achieve a balanced budget as required by law-therefore modest increases every two years are ultimately aimed to meet those standards.

         “We are committed to minimizing any increase in fares and tolls to keep the system affordable for over 9 million customers who use our services every day,” said Pedro Mojica, an MTA employee.

         The idea behind the bonus is a discount for people who pay-per-ride rather than buying an unlimited pass. Before this fare update, the bonus is 11 percent. In a given scenario, you add the amount of a roundtrip ($5.50) to your MetroCard, you get a bonus of $0.61. Under the new fare update, the bonus is reduced to five percent. In the same scenario, you only get $0.28.

         “This could be a problem for those who use MTA’s services regularly, as they would have to pay more to make that bonus value count,” said Faria Jewel ’18.

         Other changes include: the 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard jumping from $31 to $32 and the 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard jumping from $116.50 to $121.

         No one is mainly affected by this change, but when considering the long-run, it would have an impact on low-income New Yorkers who rely on the subways and buses as their means of transportation. Along with New York City’s rising rents, the steadily increasing fares will be an overburdening obstacle-standing in the way of low-income families who are working to make ends meet.

         This change would not affect students because they have their student MetroCard which they use to travel to and from school. They do not have to worry about paying the fare when riding the subway or bus unless they travel during the weekends.

         “As a student, it doesn’t affect me as much because I have my full-fare school MetroCard, but for someone like my mom, who takes the train four-five times a day, it’s a lot of money,” said Stephanie Vazquez ’18.

         David Xiao ’17 said, “I enjoy having my student MetroCard, especially when I can travel to places with no charge. The [fare] raise will pose a problem after high school because I will be buying an unlimited ride MetroCard.”

         While some may question the biennial increases and changes to the fare, others may argue the justification of whether the fare is fair when considering the quality and service of the MTA.

         “I do not believe $2.75 is worth a trip,” said Jewel. “Maybe for the subway, but for the bus, I don’t think so. The buses sometimes arrive in bad condition with the floor being dirty everywhere and some bus routes come to the stop way too late.”

         Xiao argues, “It [$2.75] is worth it because it is cheap for a ride even though the service isn’t always perfect and is cheaper than car service.”

         Whether these fare changes are for the better or for the worse, the MTA’s actions will be the determining factor in demonstrating the effectiveness of their decision between now and the next fare change.

         “Money adds up over time and by the end of the month, you look back at what you spent and realize that you probably spent over a hundred dollars just on transportation alone,” said Vazquez.

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