Fast Facts On: “NYC MTA FARE HIKE 2012″

If you’re living in New York City and have not received the bad news, then brace yourself but your transit fare is going up again. No, you are not reading a web story from 2009, or 2010, or 2011, but this is 2012 and we are hearing the same song from the MTA. Budget short falls means more out of your pocket. The last time was January 2011 when the single ride fare went from $2 to $2.25 and the monthly MetroCard shot up from $89 to $104. Well this time the MTA has offered 5 proposals to choose from:

  1.  The base fare stays at $2.25 but the monthly MetroCard rises from $104 to $125 with weekly MetroCards rising from $29 to $34. The pay-per-ride bonus would drop to 5% from its current 7%.
  2. The base fare stays at $2.25 but the monthly MetroCard rises from $104 to $119 and the weekly MetroCard rises from $29 to $32. The pay-per-ride bonus disappears entirely.
  3. The base fare rises from $2.25 to $2.50, the monthly MetroCard rises from $104 to $112 and the weekly MetroCard rises from $29 to $30.  The pay-per-ride bonus remains unchanged.
  4. The base fare rises from $2.25 to $2.50, the monthly Metrocard rises from $104 to $109 and the weekly MetroCard. The pay-per-ride bonus disappears entirely.
  5. For those of us who ride MetroNorth and the LIRR, we can expect our fare to rise 9% with no option. Drivers can expect cash tolls to rise from $6.50 to $7.50.

None of those options look great but the answer to whether or not it is avoidable might make you feel better (ok, maybe not but keep reading anyway). After what will be 4 hikes in the last 5 years you are probably wondering what the hell is going on at the MTA? Is it their fault for mismanaging their money? The short answer: no. It has become very popular to pile on the MTA but do here are some things to consider:

  •  The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) runs NYC Transit (NYC Subways and Buses), Metro-North Railroad, and the Long Island Railroad and buses.
  • In the preliminary 2011 budget, the MTA system cost 13 billion to operate per year. Your total fares and tolls add up to only half that number.
  • The rest of the MTA’s budget is derived from state and local subsidies (free allowance money), and portions of various taxes including sales tax, petroleum business tax, and certain NYC real estate transfer taxes.
  • The MTA has over 67,000 workers and 5,000 square miles that if laid out track by track would extend from New York to Chicago.
  • The average MTA employee made $52,000 a year in 2005. Subway motormen and bus drivers made $63,000 per year and subway conductors made $54,000.
  • Washington’s Metro charges rail passengers $1.70 to $5.75 per ride depending on the time of day and length of the trip. London charges its rail passengers anywhere between $6.90 to $12.69 based on distance.
  • NYC has not raised its subsidy (allowance) to the MTA since 1995.
  • The MTA Chairman and CEO makes $350,000 per year. A lofty number but far less then he would make in the private sector running a corporation as big as the MTA. The MTA board is NOT paid, however they do get free rides on MTA subways, commuter trains and buses, and drive toll free when on official business.
  • The Governor strongly recommends six of the MTA board members. The NYC Mayor recommends four. The county executives of Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties recommend one board member each.  The county executives of Orange, Putnam, Dutchess and Rockland Counties recommend one board member each (whose total vote equals one combined).

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