MTA Approves Fare Hikes and Service Cuts
by Daniel Bush
Mar 31, 2009 | 979 views | 0 0 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend | print
If New Yorkers hope to travel anywhere by mass transit this summer and beyond, they better start saving now.

The MTA board voted 12-1 on March 25 in favor of raising subway, bus, and commuter fares and increasing tolls to help cut the struggling authority's $1.2 billion budget deficit.

Under the plan, which is scheduled to take effect May 31, base subway and bus fares will rise by between 25 and 30 percent. A single ride would go up 50 cents to $2.50, and the monthly MetroCard will jump by $22 to $103.

Commuter fares, also slated to increase by at least 25 percent, will be imposed effective June 1. The MTA would raise tolls on its bridges and tunnels in mid-July.

Besides the fare increases, the authority is planning a far-ranging reduction in mass transit services that includes everything from longer nighttime waits to fewer station staff. A majority of these changes would affect transit services in the outer boroughs, including in Queens and Brooklyn.

The W and Z subway lines will be eliminated entirely, while the G, M, J, and N lines will run shorter routes. Off-peak and weekend service on the A/D/E/F/G/J/M/N/Q/R lines will be scaled back.

Weekday or weekend service on 35 bus routes - including popular lines serving Central and South Brooklyn and others all over Queens from Flushing to Springfield Gardens - would be reduced or shut down altogether.

In another oft-overlooked change, the MTA will increase the maximum seated load capacity on subways from 100 to 125 percent, a move the authority has acknowledged would result in further overcrowding and longer wait times.

After the MTA vote, elected officials spoke out against the authority's plans which, in sum, represent an enormous shift in the cost and quality of transit services.

"I am extremely disappointed that today, against the best interests of hardworking New Yorkers, the MTA Board approved its draconian budget imposing steep fare hikes and severe service cuts," Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said in a statement.

Markowitz said the cuts unfairly impact Brooklyn residents who rely on the subway and bus systems to get around the borough and commute to work in Manhattan.

"No one is questioning the reality that we need to identify funding sources to close the MTA and city's growing budget gaps in these challenging economic times," Markowitz said. "But placing the burden unfairly on the backs of hard-working Brooklynites and the city's straphangers and bus riders is simply not the answer."

The borough president joined other officials in calling on the state legislature to provide the MTA with the emergency funding the authority has requested to reduce the proposed service cuts.

The MTA could still drop the fare increases sharply if it receives the funding, but negotiations in Albany on an MTA bailout package have stalled.

Queens City Councilman John Liu, chairman of the council Transportation Committee, lambasted the MTA for voting to approve the cuts while time remains to find a solution in Albany.

"It's too bad the MTA chose theatrics and fear-mongering over diligence and reason with its vote," Liu said. "The bottom line is that today's MTA action was rash and unnecessary, and the MTA must work with our Albany leaders to craft the appropriate bailout package."

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