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MTA Fare Hikes Could Raise 30-Day Metrocard to $125

By Jill Colvin | October 15, 2012 10:43am | Updated on October 15, 2012 3:46pm

MIDTOWN — The 30-day MetroCard could jump to as much as $125 under proposed fare hikes unveiled Monday by the MTA — one of several increases that are on the table throughout the MTA's system that have riders seeing red.

The authority is considering several combinations of fare hikes for subway and bus riders, which are set to take effect in March 2013.

Under the first proposal, the base fare would rise from $2.25 to $2.50, a 30-day unlimited fare card would jump from $104 to $112 and a seven-day card would jump from $29 to $30.

Under the second proposal, a single ride would increase from $2.25 to $2.50, and the 7 percent bonus that riders get when they put $10 on their cards would be eliminated. The 30-day unlimited fare would jump slightly less from $104 to $109 and a seven-day card would remain unchanged.

Under the third and fourth proposals, the base fare would remain unchanged at $2.25.

However, under the third proposal, the bonus would be reduced to 5 percent, the 30-day unlimited would rise to $125 and the seven-day card would climb to $34.

The fourth proposal would eliminate the bonus on pay-per-ride cards, 30-day unlimited MetroCards would rise to $119 and the 7-day MetroCards would rise to $32.

Each of the proposals is intended to generate approximately $277 million in additional revenue a year, said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota, who noted that the MTA board could choose another fare hike combination if it wanted.

"The options are here to provide the public an opportunity to participate," he said. "We have to really weigh one against the other."

But he said that one thing he will recommend is keeping some sort of bonus on pay-per-ride fares.

“I’ve heard the public loud and clear. I think that there’s still going to be a discount in some way or another," he said.

The MTA also intends to add a new $1 surcharge to the purchase of all new MetroCards, to encourage more people to recycle, officials said.

MTA officials argued the hikes come as ridership is at record levels and following recently announced service restorations, including new routes to hot neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn. 

Nonetheless, critics were quick to shout "enough" at the fourth fare hike in the past five years.

"The MTA fare options would hit the riders hard," said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney of the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, who estimated that the changes could add up to an extra $200 to $250 for a typical commuter a year.

He noted that New York City Transit riders already pay the highest percentage of operating cost in the nation, with commuters covering 53 percent of the cost of running the system, versus an average of 38 percent for systems nation-wide.

To stave off hikes, he called for more funding from Albany, or hikes on certain bridge and tunnel tolls.

The hikes would also impact the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North and MTA bridges.

Under the proposal, LIRR and Metro-North rides would jump by 8.19 percent to 9.31 percent a ticket, depending on how far commuters are traveling.

For instance, on the LIRR, the cost of a one-way peak ticket from Mineola to Penn Station would increase by $1 from $10 to $11, a weekly pass would increase from $71.25 to $77.50 and a monthly pass would jump from $223 to $242.

On Metro-North, the ride from New Rochelle to Grand Central Terminal would jump from $9.25 to $10.00 during peak travel hours. A weekly pass would increase from $65.25 to $71 and a monthly pass would jump from $204 to $222.

The tolls on most bridges, including the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly the Triborough), the Throgs Neck Bridge, the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, and the Queens Tunnel would jump from $4.80 to $5.30 with an E-ZPass, and from $6.50 to $7.50 without one.

The toll on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge would jump from $9.60 to $10.60 with an E-ZPass and $13.00 to $15.00 without one for non-Staten Island residents. Staten Islanders would pay $6.36 instead of $5.76 for a round-trip with an E-ZPass, and $8.52 instead of $7.72 without one.

The Henry Hudson Bridge toll would rise from $2.20 to $2.43 with an E-ZPass, and from $4.00 to $5.00 when paying by mail. Starting next month, there will be no cash or coins accepted at the  Henry Hudson.

Fares on express buses are also set to increase, with several different plans proposed, including one that would increase the base fare from $5.50 to $6.

While the hikes have been expected for several months, commuters riding the train on Monday were distressed to hear how much more they'll have to pay.

Among the most frustrated was Kwasive Hoezadey, 48, who lives in Staten Island and makes the trip across the Verrazano Bridge several times a week.

"Oh boy. That's just too much, too much," said Hoezadey, shaking his head.

He said that raising three young kids in the city is already hard enough, and that the MTA should be lowering fares, not raising them.

"We spend all the money on transportation. What are you going to spend in your family?" he asked. "We already pay enough for the bridges and tunnels."

Vinny Liguori, 51, who commutes to the city every day on Metro-North from Croton Heights, agreed the fare hike was bad news.

"It's tough, very tough," said Ligouri, who said he already pays $279 a month to commute. "Everybody's hurting. Between parking and that, it all adds up."

Straphanger Ron Luango, who lives in Stuy-Town, said he understood the MTA's need to increase revenue, but was still unhappy about paying more.

"That's steep," said Luango, 26, after reviewing the hikes.

Like other commuters, he said he'd prefer to see the base fare rise to keep fares lower for straphangers like him who use monthly MetroCards to get to and from work.

"I'm definitely not happy about it. But it just seems to be the norm," he said.

The announcement kicks off a public review process that will include eight public hearings across the city, ahead of a Dec. 19 vote by the MTA.

The fare hike is expected to go into effect on March 1, 2013.