Two Opinions on NYC's Proposed Subway Fare Increase

Editorializing on the expected fare increase for New York City's 8.5 million transit riders, the Times suggests ways to soften the blow. Writing in response, the president of the Citizens Budget Commission suggests looking toward motorists.
October 23, 2012, 9am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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The proposed fare increases would not just affect New York City's buses and subways but also the two commuter railroads, Metro North and the Long Island Rail Road, and also the tolls on the seven bridges and two tunnels managed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

The editorial and letter to the editor present different farebox recovery figures for the country's largest and most-used transit system.

Per the Oct. 13 editorial, "New York subway riders, for example, contribute 72 percent of the cost of their commute, compared with 53 percent in Chicago and 34 percent in Atlanta". Carol Kellermann, President of the Citizen's Budget Commission, writes in her Oct. 21 "Letter to the Editor", "transit riders now pay less than half the cost of their rides. By its own analysis, the M.T.A. recovers only 36 percent of its costs through fares systemwide."

The editorial suggests that MTA look toward the state to soften the fare increase, particularly on low income New Yorkers who can least afford the fare increase.

Ms. Kellermann suggests to increase the revenue the MTA already gets from those who drive.

"Rather than look for more state tax revenues, a better approach would be to seek a greater cross-subsidy from motor vehicle users, who benefit from the reduced traffic that mass transit makes possible. The M.T.A. already uses some of its toll revenue to cover mass transit costs, and it receives a portion of the license and registration fees the state charges drivers.

These sources and new ones, such as tolls to enter the central business district, are preferable on efficiency and equity grounds to relying on more general taxes or on fare increases above half the actual costs of providing a ride."

As for the actual toll and transit increases, MTA has four proposals for raising NYC bus and subway fares, with the first one to increase the present $2.25 fare to $2.50. Public hearings begin on Nov. 7.

Thanks to New York Times Subway News Alerts

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Published on Friday, October 12, 2012 in The New York Times - Opinion
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