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$121 For a Monthly MetroCard! MTA Approves Fare Hike For March

By Danielle Tcholakian | January 25, 2017 12:46pm
 A Q train in Stillwell Avenue Station
A Q train in Stillwell Avenue Station
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Flickr/de la Cuna

LOWER MANHATTAN — A monthly MetroCard will increase to $121 and a weekly will cost $32 after the MTA voted Wednesday to increase fares for subways and buses.

The transit agency was choosing between two fare hike options, both of which would have resulted in the MetroCard price increases.

The option they chose keeps the per-ride cost at $2.75, but decreases the “bonus” riders get when they put money on their MetroCards.

The fare hikes take effect on March 19.

The monthly MetroCard is currently $116.50 and the weekly is $31.

The 7-Day Express Bus Plus MetroCard will also increase from $57.25 to $59.50, and the $1 fee for purchasing a new MetroCard remains the same.

Before the vote, roughly 25 people addressed their concerns about the hike to the board.

"Fare hikes don’t just happen out of nowhere, it is the result of the state refusing to put funding for New Yorkers who need transit on a daily basis," said Sharon Bardalas, a student at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. "Paying $2.75 or more per week just to get to work or school puts a financial burden on my pocket."

Samuel Santaella of St. Albans, Queens, who's a member of the Riders Alliance advocacy group, said: "To pay for my MetroCard, I’ve had to give up my cell phone service, not buy new clothes and skip meals toward the end of the month."

The MTA's own board this week criticized the agency for raising fares at a time of increased delays and poor service.

Board member Charles Moerdler said that as far as riders are concerned, subway service rates between "poor" and "fuhgeddaboutit."

Presiding over his very last meeting before he steps down as MTA Chairman and CEO, Tom Prendergast recommended the plan the keep the base fare at $2.75 and decrease the bonus. He said it "benefits riders who pay cash... and are more likely to be lower-income riders."

Prendergast also noted keeping the base fare stable helps disabled riders who use the system's paratransit.

Though all the board members present except for one — Carl Wortendyke — voted in support of Prendergast's recommendation, several expressed a preference for the second plan, which would have raised the base fare to $3, but also increased the bonus that riders get when they put money on their MetroCards.

(Two members, David Jones and James Vitiello, were absent, and a third, Neal Zuckerman, left before the vote.)

Board member Andrew Albert said there's a "psychological benefit" to keeping the fare at $2.75, but maintained that the other plan would have helped more riders.

"It's great to be able to say we held it," Albert said. "But for the majority of our riders, they'll lose."

He also suggested that the interests of disabled writers should be addressed separately.

"A tremendous amount of people in each income group use the bonus MetroCard," Albert added. 

Public speakers who pushed for subsidies for low-income riders before the vote were divided on who should foot the bill for them, with some calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio and others on Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Prendergast said the governor — who tapped him to lead the agency — should not be responsible, and some board members, including Greenberg, agreed that the city should shoulder the cost.

At a press conference announcing his proposed budget on Tuesday, de Blasio said the city can't afford subsidizing half the cost of MetroCards for poor New Yorkers.

"It's a noble goal," he said, but added that it's the "responsibility of the State of New York."