It’s official: Subway fare hikes are coming this March, with regrets

Inside a 7 train. (bitchcakesny via Flickr)
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The M.T.A. board today voted to hike fares across the region's mass transit system, all the while expressing remorse for having to do so in the face of ongoing budgetary issues at the state transportation authority.

Joe Lhota, the M.T.A.'s chairman through the end of December, bemoaned "the fact that our riders pay more on a per-ride basis than any other rider anywhere in the country."

"We need to have more stable streams of income," he said, echoing the comments of other boardmembers.

Starting in March, monthly MetroCards will rise from $104 to $112, and weekly ones will jump from $29 to $30. 

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The base fare (the amount deducted from a card when it's swiped) will increase from $2.25 to $2.50, except for those who pay by individual ride. They'll pay $2.75, instead of the current $2.50.

Long Island Railroad and Metro-North Railroad passengers will see fare increases of between 8.19 and 9.31 percent, and tolls on most bridges and tunnels will rise less than a dollar to $5.33 for E-ZPass users. For those who pay in cash, the toll wille rise a full dollar to $7.50.

"We are a not a fat, profligate, out-of-control agency that people have tried to make the M.T.A. out to be," said Lhota.

In fact, in 2013, the M.T.A. will have achieved $809 million of annual recurring savings, thanks to extensive cost-cutting measures.

None of this is unexpected.

A long-standing issue for the M.T.A. is inadequate transit funding from Albany, the city and federal government, coupled with rising health care and pension costs.

That's why Lhota argued for "stable streams of funding," though he declined to specify just what those might look like.

One proposal that's been making the rounds amounts to a revised version of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan, which died in Albany in 2008. 

Those sorts of revenue sources would require Albany's assistance, which, thus far, Governor Andrew Cuomo has been reluctant to offer.

As Michael Murphy, the spokesman for Transportation Alternatives, pointed out today on Twitter, "Reminder: @NYGovCuomo could've stopped #MTA fare hike w/ State funding."