Fares on some subways, bus passes and bridges are set to go up again early next year under a plan introduced today by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority -- and one scenario could send the cost of an unlimited monthly pass soaring to $130 or higher.
The MTA said the plan is aimed at shoring up "a $900 million shortfall for 2010 resulting from cuts to State assistance and dramatic downturns in tax revenue."
The idea was floated during the same board meeting where the MTA board voted 13-1 to permanently eliminate an additional 202 station agents. Some 262 other station agents were fired earlier in the year. Approximately 2,000 will remain after the layoffs approved Wednesday.
The new fare hikes will target discounts and unlimited ride passes. But, the base $2.25 per ride will stay the same. Bonuses on discount cards will fall to 7-percent from 15-percent, and customers would need to put $10 on a card instead of $8.
The plan had called for either a 30-day MetroCard that would be capped at 90 rides for $99 or a 30-day unlimited Metro Card at $104. During the MTA meeting, several board members asked why riders couldn't be offered a choice of the capped card or an unlimited card.
When asked by reporters after the board meeting about the viability of that option, MTA Chairman and CEO Jay Walder said it's possible, but if a choice were offered for a 30-day pass, "the price for the unlimited card would have to be $130 or higher."
The 14-day MetroCards would be eliminated.
On the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North, average ticket increases range from 7.6% to 9.4% and off-peak discounts would be greatly reduced.
Cash tolls at the MTA’s six major crossings and the Henry Hudson Bridge would increase by 50 cents, and cash tolls at its two minor bridges would rise by 25 cents.
"The foundation of this Plan is the most aggressive and comprehensive overhaul in the history of the MTA,” said Walder.
About 100 transit union workers showed up to hear the MTA present its proposals. They chanted "fire the MTA'' outside the building.
The fare changes -- coming less than two years after a previous hike -- won't take effect until January.
The head of Transportation Alternatives, a public-transit advocacy organization, condemned the proposal.
"The riding public is footing more and more of the bill to keep our transit system running, and all the while the services they rely on are disappearing before their very eyes," says Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. "If our elected officials in Albany think the riding public is going to stomach massive service cuts and a whopping fare hike during an election year, they've seriously miscalculated."