Subway Riders Shrug Off Coming Fare Hikes, Most of Them Anyway

A man buys a Metro Card at the 34th Street – Herald Square Station in New York. (NYCityLens/Swati Gupta)

A man buys a Metro Card at the 34th Street – Herald Square Station in New York. (NYCityLens/Swati Gupta)

Come March, it is going to cost more to take the subway or a bus.  On January 22, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) board voted to increase fares for the New York transit system by almost four percent. People paying for each trip will feel the pinch of the extra 25 cents that has been added to their daily expense. But in a random survey in the subway system last week, many New Yorkers seemed to take the news in stride and seemed largely indifferent to the fare hike, while others expressed frustration.

Eventually they have to raise the fare,” said Mellisa Moser, who says she takes the subway every day to work and to meet up with friends. A New York resident for almost 15 years, she sees the increase as inevitable. “The cost of it is effective because of inflation,” she said while refilling her MetroCard at the Columbus Circle subway station.

The base fare for bus and subway will be increasing by 25 cents to $2.75. The 30-Day Unlimited Ride Metro Card will increase by four percent to $116.50. The 7-Day Unlimited Ride Metro Card will increase by 3.3 percent to $31. The proposed hike of four percent will go into effect on March 22.

Kelly Hicks and Andrea Bush travel across New York everyday and use the 30-day unlimited metro card. Both women said  they feel that it works out quite cheap for them—and an increase won’t make that much difference. Hicks does not think the hike is too high and expects it to go up in a couple of years again.

Even though the MTA does propose increases in fares every couple of years, some commuters were not pleased with the most recent announcement. Some New Yorkers expressed their disappointment about the hole in their pockets that just got a little bigger.  Amanda Winters lives in Westchester and travels to New York regularly. “I have a lack of funds already,” she said as she waited to catch the train at Grand Central Station. The last fare hike was rolled out almost two years back in March, 2013.

It is ridiculous. It is going to make the city even less affordable,” said Alana Govan, who is a student in New York.

Davida Williams travels by the subway every day to work and complained about the condition of the transit system. “I don’t think[a fare hike] is justified,” she said. “There are train delays and overcrowding. There is no protection or safety. I work nights and that is a problem for me.”

Along with New York subway and buses, commuters traveling on the Long Island Rail Road, MTA bridges and tunnels will also be shelling out extra cash to get their tickets. The MTA chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said that the transit system had limited the fare and toll increases to around two percent every year. “Our financial plan assumes modest biennial fare and toll increases, and the board has chosen options with lower increases for our most frequent customers,” he said in a statement issued last week.

The New York subway system caters to a population of over 15.1 million people. Most people who travel regularly in New York purchase a monthly pass; currently the price for the 30-day pass is $112. 

The fare hikes for subway and buses in New York over the past century. (NYCityLens/Swati Gupta)

The fare hikes for subway and buses in New York over the past century. (NYCityLens/Swati Gupta)

Janelle Corales travels often to New York from Connecticut by train. A prior resident of New York City, Corales said that the regular fare hikes have pushed the rates to a new high.

Nausheen Zia drives to work every day from Westchester because driving the car turns out to be cheaper for her. “A tank of gas is $2.50. When I already have a car, it is easier but I know a lot of New Yorkers would disagree,” she added with a laugh.

Tolls will rise by four percent on MTA Bridges and Tunnels for over 75 percent of the crossings that are made by cars and trucks using a New York Customer Service Center (NYCSC) E-ZPass. Those car tolls will increase 21 cents to $5.54 at major crossings like the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge and the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

The New York subway system officially started in 1904 and the fare for a single ride has shifted from five cents to $2.75 in 110 years. The number of commuters riding the subway on an average weekday in 2013 was 8.6 million.

A comparison of the current and future rates that commuters will have to pay to use MTA services. (Source: www.mta.info)

A comparison of the current and future rates that commuters will have to pay to use MTA services. (Source: www.mta.info)

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