More Bad News From the MTA

From unlimited MetroCards to surcharges, the MTA looks for every last penny from riders

By Lynda Baquero
|  Monday, Jul 19, 2010  |  Updated 9:06 AM EDT
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MTA Deficit Plans

The MTA is reportedly looking at even more ways to make-up its budget shortfall. Once again, it could fall on the shoulders of straphangers. Among the new proposals are changes to off-peak fares and unlimited metrocards. Lynda Baquero reports.
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As the Metropolitan Transportation Authority looks to close another deficit -- this one a projected $400 million -- the agency is now considering trimming "off peak" discounts on the LIRR.

The move comes just weeks after the MTA said it might limit "unlimited" weekly and monthly Metrocards.  The "unlimited" monthly and weekly MetroCards would be scaled down to 90 and 21 rides respectively, so making them not unlimited at all.  

Initially, the MTA was considering scrapping all off-peak discounts on the LIRR, in effect during the less traveled hours on the trains, but now it simply wants to close the gap between fares.   Another idea is to have riders pay peak fares for monrning trains heading East from Penn Station or the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, sources tell NBCNewYork.

Off-peak rides make up 30 percent of revenue at the LIRR and 27 percent of trips, officials said.

The final decision will be made next Monday at the MTA's board meeting, when the 2011 budget is due.  If the motion passes the MTA will hold several hearings before the changes take effect on January 1.

There's little doubt that fares won't go up again in January -- a hike speculated to be about 7 percent.  This means a monthly pass could cost about $100 a month, up from $89 today.

The news comes a week after the MTA also revealed it was considering a $1 surcharge on all MetroCards to encourage riders to save and replenish their cards instead of throwing them out, thereby reducing printing costs.

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