|Embargoed for release:||For info, contact:|
|Tuesday, December 9, 2008, 10:30 a.m.|
Gene Russianoff (917) 575-9434
$104 30-Day MetroCard Possible Next Year, Up from Current $81,
New York City Independent Budget Office Forecasts
Base Fare for Subways and Buses Could Go To "At Least" $2.50
Average Fare on LIRR Could Rise from $5.71 to $7.31,
And From $6.18 to $7.91 on MetroNorth
The NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign today released an analysis of the possible impact of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's troubled finances on subway, bus and commuter fares. The review was conducted by the New York City Independent Budget Office at the request of the Straphangers Campaign. (See attached IBO analysis dated December 3rd.)
The IBO forecast that under the MTA's current financial plan, the base city subway and bus fare could rise to "at least" $2.50 in 2009 from $2.00 currently. The cost of a 30-day unlimited MetroCard could jump to $104 from the current $81 and the 7-day MetroCard could rise to $32 from the current $25.
The MTA's financial plan calls for a 23% greater yield from revenues coming from the farebox. The IBO calculated that this would in turn require an actual 28% increase in fares including the base fare and all fare discounts. The higher percentage increase calculated by the IBO takes account of likely loss of ridership due to the fare hike.
Unlimited-ride MetroCards account for 50% of all trips, according to the MTA. 32% of trips are taken on 30-day MetroCards; 7-day MetroCards account for 15.5% of all trips.
"Transit fares will go through the roof and service through the floor unless Governor Paterson and state legislative leaders come to the rescue of transit riders," said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the Straphangers Campaign.
The MTA has also proposed $177 million in service cuts, including elimination of two subway lines, increase in non-rush hour waits, less frequent trains at night, and reductions of service or elimination on dozens of bus routes.
If these reductions were rescinded, the IBO said that the transit fare would have to rise 32% in 2009. That would result in $107 30-day unlimited-ride MetroCards and $33 7-day unlimited-ride MetroCards.
An equivalent 28 % increase in commuter rail fares would push the average fare paid to $7.31 on the Long Island Rail Road (up from $5.71 in 2008) and to $7.91 on MetroNorth (up from $6.18 in 2008.) Average commuter fares would go up 32% if the service cuts were rescinded: $7.53 on the LIRR, and $8.16 on MetroNorth.
In its preliminary budget last July, the MTA had recommended that fares be increased by 8% in 2009 (to raise about $340 million a year) and State and City subsidies rise by $300 million.
However, in its November budget proposal, the MTA included a 23% fare hike, $177 million in annual service cuts and no increase in City or State subsidies.
A commission appointed by Governor Paterson and headed by former MTA Chairman Richard Ravitch has recommended several new revenues to be dedicated to the MTA. These included a regional payroll tax and tolls on East River Bridges, along with an 8% yield in fare and toll revenues.
In a separate analysis, the IBO calculated that an 8% yield would require a 10% increase in fares. Under this scenario, the 30-day unlimited-ride MetroCard would rise from $81 to $89. The 7-day pass would rise from $25 to $27.50. (See attached IBO analysis dated December 5th.)
Russianoff offered an additional analysis of the likely cost of a 30-day unlimited-ride MetroCard if transit fares increased by 28%. It was not based on the IBO review.
With an unlimited-ride 30-day MetroCard costing $81, riders "broke even" if they took 47 or more trips a month. That is calculated as follows: The lowest cost per ride is $1.74. That is what each ride costs using the 15% discount on the pay-per-ride purchase of $7 or more. (That's 4 trips for $7 or $7 divided by 4 or $1.74 a ride.) If you multiply $1.74 by 46 trips, you get $81.78.
If the base fare went to $2.50, a 15% discount on the pay-per-ride MetroCard would cost approximately $2.14 a ride. That would be 7 trips for $15 or $2.14 a ride. With the same standard of having riders "break even" if they took more than 47 trips a month, then the pass would cost $100.50. That is the result of multiplying $2.14 by 47.
The IBO was created by a City Charter Revision Commission in 1989. Its mission is to provide independent, non-partisan financial to public officials and civic groups. The IBO director serves for a fixed, four-year term. In this analysis, IBO relied on MTA projections.