Statement On MTA Fare Hike Proposal
MTA Board Meeting
July 25. 2007
Here are some questions that New Yorkers should be asking about a possible fare hike in the months to come:
* Do the financial numbers show the MTA facing a serious budget deficit in 2008 and beyond?
Here the MTA will have to make its case. This will be the agency's biggest challenge since it will be running a surplus in 2008, although it predicts large deficits in the following years. Much of the MTA's long-term deficit is caused by growing interest on the $32 billion that the MTA has been forced to borrow since 1982. These bonds made up for a lack of city and state aid badly needed to fund key repairs to the 103 year old transit system. Borrowing costs will eat up an astonishing 20% of the MTA's costs by the end of the decade. It is only fair to acknowledge that the MTA has what is called a "structural" deficit that will require new revenues in future years to address recurring deficits. But there is no question that many New Yorkers - especially the most vulnerable economically -- will be asking what they are getting for a fare increase.
* Who should contribute to solving the MTA's financial woes?
The MTA now receives billions in financial support from riders through fares, motorists through tolls and gas taxes, and corporations, consumers and property owners, all through dedicated transit taxes. That makes sense. All who benefit from the biggest transit system in the U.S. should support it.
* Shouldn't riders pay the whole tab?
Riders are already paying more than their fare share. In 2005, MTA told federal transit officials that the fare burden on its riders was 58% - with subways at 68% and buses at 42%. The national average for big transit systems is 40%. MTA CEO Lee Sander told a state legislative committee this January: "In 2007, MTA expects to generate $5.4 billion, or 60%, of its total $9.2 billion in operating revenues primarily from fares and tolls. This is a phenomenally high fare box return."
* How do we make sure riders aren't the only ones asked to help out?
Any proposal to raise fares should only be seriously considered if and when the state legislature approves Mayor Bloomberg's congestion pricing proposal and/or other transit aid to raise billions of dollars to fix transit and take pressure off the budget. As was the case in 2003, the decision on fares should not be made before the early spring - specifically no earlier than March 31st, 2008, the date the state legislature is due to decide the fate of congestion pricing.
* Are there ways for the MTA to take the sting out of a possible fare increase?
As part of past fare hikes, the MTA has taken other steps to help riders, such as insuring 30-day MetroCards from loss or theft. The MTA should now consider offering such new fare discount as:
- 14 day unlimited-ride MetroCard, more affordable and with more discount than 7-day passes.
- progressive pay-per-ride bonuses keeping low dollar threshold for discounts.
- lower fares for families traveling on weekends.
Posted Jul 25 2007 by Gene Russianoff
| 4 comments
Congestion Pricing Deal Struck
Today, legislative leaders in Albany came to an agreement on congestion pricing. Here's what the Straphangers Campaign had to say:
For immediate release: Thursday July 19, 2007
For more information: Neysa Pranger at (917) 532-0567
Hallelujah! Transit Riders Rejoice!
Straphangers Campaign Applauds Legislature on
Congestion Pricing Agreement
Cleaner Air, Gridlock Relief Among Benefits
The Straphangers Campaign congratulates the state Legislature for authorizing New York City to design and implement a congestion pricing system for New York City.
This is truly an historic moment for New York. Mayor Bloomberg deserves praise for envisioning a bold initiative and State Senate Majority Leader Bruno, Speaker Silver and Governor Spitzer deserve praise for doing what’s right for the future of New York.
Congestion pricing is a forward-thinking solution to local and global problems whose time has come. From soaring asthma rates, to snarled traffic, to global warming, congestion pricing will help New York lead in addressing all these issues.
There are many compelling reasons to act now. Manhattan is drowning in traffic, New York City suffers from twice the national rate of asthma and we are desperate for new funds to repair and expand our vital subway, bus and commuter rail network. Gridlock is bad for the region's economy, whether measured in lost jobs, reduced business income or unreliable shipping.
We hope New York City is still eligible to receive up to $500 million in federal funds. These funds are desperately needed for immediate transit enhancements to 22 outlying city neighborhoods with inadequate transit options, as well as for technology to set up a congestion pricing pilot program.
There will be many winners with congestion pricing – kids suffering from asthma, drivers stuck in traffic – and transit riders and commuters should rejoice outright. Congestion pricing revenues will help keep fares down and fund $30 billion in vital long-term transit repairs and expansion—which will mean faster, safer commutes, repaired stations and new bus routes. Perhaps at long last, the Second Avenue Subway will shed its moniker as “the greatest project New York could never build.”
In reviewing congestion pricing options, we hope the Commission the Legislature will establish to make congestion pricing implementation recommendations considers the thoughtful concerns we have heard from legislators, including: the wisdom of creating a new SMART authority; safeguards to ensure that the funds generated would all be spent on transit; ways the MTA could pay for quickly added service; and the potential for neighborhoods bordering the congestion zone to become parking lots.
We believe these issues can be fairly resolved.
Posted Jul 19 2007 by Neysa Pranger
| 4 comments