Riders Rage Against MTA Fare Hikes
By Joe Marvilli
|Representatives from the MTA listened to concerns about a proposed fare hike at a meeting on Nov. 15. Photo by Joe Marvilli
Angry commuters last week voiced their displeasure with proposals from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to raise the price of subway and bus fares.
Held on Nov. 15 at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel in Flushing, the fare hike meeting was one of several held in the City on the MTA’s fare increase plans set for March 2013. Although only 40 people attended, those that did were upset about the prospect of another costly commuter increase.
The MTA has laid out four different options for next year’s fare hikes. Two of the proposals would increase the base fare from $2.25 to $2.50. Under these plans, the advance purchase bonus would remain the same and only minimal increases would be made to the unlimited weekly and monthly cards.
The two possibilities that keep the base fare at $2.25 would increase the unlimited weekly and monthly cards as well as shrink or completely cut the advance purchase bonus.
Jason Chin-Fatt, field organizer for the Straphangers Campaign, believed the proposals were an example of “picking your poison.” The addition of a payroll tax and fare increases every other year was supported by the Straphangers Campaign in 2009, but they turned against it once the group realized the revenue was not going into transit.
“The only reason we supported that plan in the past was the fact that you had folks that benefited from transit actually paying for the system,” Chin-Fatt said. “But that deal was broken when they took the money generated by the payroll mobility tax and rolled it into the general fund.”
The group is behind the idea of making transit a lockbox, to prevent funds from being diverted elsewhere.
There was a noticeable student presence in the audience, both from individuals and student societies.
“Queens College is a commuter school and the students there who I work with every day depend on buses and subways,” Enrico Purita, a New York Public Interest Research Group representative from Queens College, said. “They could not incur any sort of fare hike.”
Mayuri Saxena, a student from Flushing, thought the $1 fee for new Metrocards was an unfair burden on commuters, given that they get worn out regularly.
“The MTA needs to search for a way to lift some of the burden from riders,” Owen Costello, a member of the Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council said. “Find funding that doesn’t depend on fares, like station area development and advertising revenue.”
On hand as well was Daneek Miller, the President of Amalgamated Local 1056, who discussed fixing up the City’s bus stations and schedules to handle an increasing population.
“We continue to advocate the modernized bus terminals to meet existing ridership capacities as well as the new Jamaica depot,” Miller said.
“We are soliciting public opinion to help guide our board members as they consider the best way to change our fare and toll structure,” MTA representative Kevin Ortiz said about the meetings.
Reach Reporter Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.