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
Say NO to the fare hike!!! It is not needed trust me. If the MTA currently has a surplus of around $1 billion, how can they predict a $1 billion deficit by 2009. If this is true, then they don't know how use their money wisely and needs to learn that. There are other places where they can get extra revenue, like the mayor who's a billionare and all those rich politicians that dominate the city. We have had enough and it's about time they learn that.
Posted Jul 28 2007 8:30 AM by Anna T.
MTA FARE HIKE
Bruce Ratner bought the Atlantic rail yards from the MTA for far less than they were worth, and for less than the competing bid. The MTA accepted Ratner's bid of $100 million ($30/sq foot) despite the competing bid of $150 million from Extell and the MTA's own appraised value of $214 million. If the MTA is so strapped for cash, why would it accept such a low bid? Outrageous! They should answer for this. Obviously, Ratner is well connected and got a sweetheart deal. Brooklyn, the taxpayers and the commuters got a raw deal.
Posted Jul 25 2007 10:25 PM by Jean Standish