NEW YORK (PIX11) — The MTA on Wednesday announced it is considering a 5.5% fare hike amid massive budget issues. The new cost of a single ride would be $2.90.
The agency had previously planned to raise the fare by only 4%. However, the fare hike alone will not solve the agency’s problems.
According to a new report from New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, the MTA would need to increase the fare by 28% just to return to pre-pandemic farebox revenue levels.
The MTA has $5.6 billion left in federal COVID-19 relief but faces $11.4 billion in projected deficits over the next four years.
“The fact is, the remaining federal aid will not cover the next four years of deficits,” said Kevin Williams, the MTA’S Chief Financial Officer during a Wednesday budget meeting.
New Yorkers shared their concerns about a potential fare hike. “It’s horrible,” said commuter Dylan Clarke. “If you can’t afford to buy food for your family, why would you raise [fares]? It doesn’t make sense.”
“Raising by more the normal amount is not going to make people happy,” said commuter Jared Zuker. “I don’t know if there’s much we can do about it because we have to take the subway.”
“I think increasing it would make it really hard for us, especially working in hospitality,” said commuter Brittany Nash. “We don’t make that much money as it is, so I think that would make it really hard for us.”
According to the comptroller’s new report, the MTA relies heavily on fare revenue – more than other large cities. Ridership levels are only about 60% of what they were pre-pandemic. Other large transit systems rely largely on government subsidies.
MTA CEO Janno Lieber said during Wednesday’s budget meeting that a fare hike is avoidable, if lawmakers step in. “We could definitely avoid a far hike if there was an answer coming from all the decision makers in Albany, Washington and City Hall,” said Lieber.
Felicia Park-Rogers from the advocacy group Tri-State Transportation Campaign said the state needs to step in.
“What we need is for the state to treat this like a public service,” said Park-Rogers. “It’s going to have to be funded by the state.”
The MTA board will meet again on Dec. 21 to review and approve the 2023 budget.