The Metropolitan Transportation Authority proposed Monday to raise the base fare for a single subway, bus or paratransit ride in New York City by 5 percent, to $2.90 from $2.75 — the first increase to the base fare since 2015.
The proposal would increase the cost of a seven-day MetroCard by 3 percent, to $34 from $33, and the cost of a 30-day MetroCard would go up 4 percent, to $132 from $127, their first increases since 2019. Fares for the express bus service, will The Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad will also rise, as will tolls at the authority̵[ads1]7;s bridges and tunnels.
If the authority’s board approves the increases, which are expected to generate $305 million a year in revenue, they would take effect no later than Labor Day, officials said.
Why it matters
New York City’s transit network, the largest in the United States, is a vital lifeline that millions of people rely on every day, especially to get to and from work.
Although operating at just 70 percent of its pre-pandemic ridership levels, the subway has carried four million passengers on several weekdays since last month.
The agency sought to soften the impact of the proposed increases on working New Yorkers by increasing them more modestly on weekly and monthly MetroCards, officials said. Nevertheless, any significant increase in costs at a time of high inflation is likely to have an impact.
Danny Pearlstein, a spokesman for the Riders Alliance, an advocacy group, said a fare increase was inevitable, but he urged Mayor Eric Adams to expand eligibility for the city’s Fair Fares program, which offers half-fare to poor New Yorkers who qualify. .
“Riders need our mayor to step in to help those who can least afford the hike,” Pearlstein said.
The proposed increase is not as large as it could have been. Before Gov. Kathy Hochul, who controls the authority, and lawmakers passed this year’s state budget, the MTA was facing a huge deficit that resulted in part from the pandemic’s impact on riders.
The final budget included a payroll tax on large New York City businesses that targeted mass transit, made a one-time $300 million payment to the authority and earmarked an additional $65 million to reduce the potential for a larger increase.
The subway has struggled financially since at least the 1970s, when a municipal financial crisis exacerbated the myriad problems caused by the system’s crumbling infrastructure. To stave off further decay, lawmakers moved in the 1980s to allow the agency to issue bonds, but the agency’s debt has exploded since then, and spending has outpaced revenue.
The pandemic created new financial headaches, with riders abandoning the subway and buses, draining critical fare revenue.
What will be next
The authority’s board expects to hold public hearings on the proposal next month and to vote on it in July.