By Olivia Scheck and Jill Colvin
MANHATTAN — Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised MTA Chairman Jay Walder on the day it was revealed New Yorkers could see the cost of a monthly MetroCard hit $130.
Walder laid out competing plans in July to raise the price of an unlimited monthly MetroCard to $104, or, alternatively, raise the price to $99 with a 90-ride cap. Now, the MTA is floating a third scenario – an unlimited card that could cost as much as $130.
"Thank goodness we have this guy. He is approaching this as an adult," Bloomberg said at a press conference. "We have to pay the bills and we have to provide better service and somebody's going to have to pay and he's going to look at all of the possibilities."
The mayor said in the absence of another plan that balances the cash-strapped MTA's budget, a fare hike was was the only recourse for Walder.
"If the state doesn't give him the monies that he needs, he's going to have to make it up at the fare box," Bloomberg said.
This possibility of the $130 fare was mentioned in a public notice by the MTA, published Monday in the New York Times, and confirmed by an MTA spokesman on Tuesday.
The notice, announcing a series of public hearings on the impending fare hike, also said that unlimited weekly MetroCards could rise as high as $38, with a lower-priced 22-ride capped option also available.
MTA Deputy Press Secretary Aaron Donovan clarified by e-mail Tuesday that the new numbers did not represent official proposals by the MTA, but rather the upper bounds of possible future proposals.
Donovan also noted that 93 percent of riders take fewer than 90 rides per month, suggesting that most people would opt for the less expensive monthly card.
All of the proposals will be up for debate in public hearings next month, before they are finally voted on by the MTA board in October.
The MTA must increase its revenue by 7.5 percent, according to an agreement with the State Legislature.
Still, many straphangers expressed outrage at the mere prospect of a $130 MetroCard in the face of deteriorating service.
"It's not fair," insisted 46-year-old Luz Tanon. "Service is worse. And if you have to ask a question, you can't because there is no one at the booth."
When asked if she'd still buy a MetroCard, Tanon replied: "I have to, I've got to get to work."