MTA proposes 4 percent fare and toll increase in March 2017

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NEW YORK — The MTA proposed a 4-percent fare and toll increase Wednesday as part of its plan for 2017.

Under the budget proposal, a monthly-unlimited MetroCard would cost $121. That's up $3.50 from its current cost. 7-day unlimited cards would increase one dollar to $32 .

52% of riders use the unlimited cards.

MTA Board Members will have to decide to keep the base fare at $2.75 with a decrease in the bonus amount or to increase the base fare to $3 and raise the bonus to 16%. They vote in January after public hearings.

The bonus would bring the cost of a swipe down to about $2.60.

The previous increase was discussed in 2014 and took effect in March of 2015. The MTA has planned increases every other year since 2009.

Monthly-pass increases on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North would be capped this time at $15. Tolls on the Bridges and Tunnels would increase an average 4 percent with discounts for EZ-Pass users and, additionally, residents of Staten Island and Rockaways

The increase is in line with what the MTA Board projected earlier this year.

Looking ahead, the plan includes another similar increase in 2019. Read the full proposals here on the MTA website. Information on public hearings, scheduled for December 5th - 19th, is available on the agency's website.

A slide presented during the Nov. 16, 2016, MTA meeting in which the finance chairman proposed a 4 percent fare on monthly Metrocard users. (MTA)

A slide presented during the Nov. 16, 2016, MTA meeting in which the finance chairman proposed a 4 percent fare on monthly Metrocard users. (MTA)

The MTA has an estimated $15.6 billion annual operating budget, half of which comes from fares and tolls. Those fares and tolls help cover about half of the day-to-day operating budget for the agency. That includes debt payments, purchasing, salaries, pensions, benefits, and routine maintenance.

The agency will be detailing some of the increased services it has offered and will offer. The Second Avenue Subway is expected to open by the end of December. MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast explained additional costs are incurred any time additional trains or buses are added to routes.

The agency was "forced...because of the economic environment" in 2010 to implement sweeping cost-saving measures, which has netted $1.8 billion in annually recurring savings, MTA Chief Financial Officer Robert E. Foran said.

Because of those savings, Foran said, transit riders have been spared a 20 percent fare and toll increase over the past 6 years.

The savings included no increases in the last contract for transit workers, represented by Transport Workers Union Local 100. That agreement expires in January 2017. The union has already submitted a proposal and says it will be asking for more than a 2-percent increase.