Sunday, November 23, 2014

MTA's 2015 fare hike and public hearings

Last Monday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced a bunch of public hearings on what they call "Limited Fare and Toll Proposals" or modestly raise the fare and tolls across all modes of transportation with the MTA regional network they operate.  The fare proposals affect NYC buses and subways, the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North commuter railroads as well as the tolls on MTA Bridges and Tunnels which operate wholly within the 5 boroughs of NYC.  The breakdown of proposals are as follows:

  • NYC Subways, local buses and Access-A-Ride:  Two base fare proposals are on tap - - one proposal is to keep the $2.50 base fare (for Pay-Per-Ride cards) unchanged but eliminate the 5 percent bonus on Pay Per Ride fill ups over a certain amount.  A second proposal is to raise the base fare to $2.75 but offer a greater discount of 11 percent if $5.50 or more is added to the card (that's 2 fares). 7 day and 30 day regular Unlimited Metrocards rise top $31 and $116.50 respectively.  Express bus fare rises to $6.00 while the 7 day Express Bus Plus Metrocard increases to an odd $57.25.
  • LIRR and Metro-North:  4 percent average fare increase.  Cityticket weekend travel between most NYC stations and the CBD zones will increase to $4.25.  The $1 off peak Family Fare for each child remains unchanged at $1.
  • MTA Bridges and Tunnels  Two proposals like the NYC Transit proposals - - one to remain the base toll flat or increase it.  Both proposals have a slight increase for E-Z Pass users with NY metro area tags.
By laws, a public hearing must be conducted in each county within NY State where the MTA operates in any capacity.  Rockland and Orange counties served by MTA West of Hudson rail service (Port Jervis and Pascack Valley lines) get their public hearing at West Nyack.  Long Islanders will have to travel to Melville for their public hearing.   The MTA will offer video testimony at Poughkeepsie station for Dutchess county and Ronkonkoma station for Suffolk county, where participants can submit a 3 minute video testimony for the MTA board to review.  There is no public hearing or video testimony offered anywhere in Putnam County  (that's between Westchester and Dutchess counties on Metro-North turf) or Nassau County

On some days, there are two public hearings on the same night.  This is wrong and must be fixed by the MTA as only half of the MTA board members can attend one hearing while the other half sleeps through the second hearing of the night.  The first day of the public hearings, December 1st, have venues in Manhattan and the Bronx.  The MTA Chairman, Thomas Prendergast, and NYCT President Carmen Bianco, cannot be at both hearings simultaneously, unless one takes the Lexington Ave IRT subway lines between both places.    The public deserves a full board in attendance at one venue for the night and they all must be attentive as each speaker comes to the podium.  Another issue is that some board members suddenly are tardy after the first or second recess.  From my past experiences, after the recess is over and the first speaker is called, only 4 or 5 of the 12 MTA Board members actually return to the hearing.   Perhaps recess should be 5 minutes longer.  Finally, one of the subway and bus proposals offers a strange 11 percent discount.  This is a cheap way out on offering the other proposal.

Whatever the MTA decides, and they will decide quickly, the public will have to pay more but at a modest rate.  If only the MTA was concerned about how accurate their signs and information on their website.  The MTA board will vote on these proposals at the January Board Meeting, and the fares/tolls will take effect in March, 2015.  On the New Haven branch of Metro-North, fares in Connecticut will increase in January, 2015 and will not be a part of the MTA public hearing process as a prior public hearing and vote was already taken by the State of CT with the MTA earlier this year.   

No comments:

Post a Comment