M.T.A. is on track to decide on a fair hike

George Haikalis, president of IRUM and of Village Crosstown Trolley fame, testified against a fare hike at the M.T.A. board’s meeting on Nov. 27. Photo by Joseph M. Calisi

BY JOSEPH M. CALISI | It looks like there could be no light at the end of the tunnel for straphangers, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board of directors may well put a fare hike into effect in March 2019. The board will make its decision official early next year.

Two years ago, the MetroCard base rate was kept at $2.75 but weekly and monthly MetroCard rates, as well as commuter railroads and tolls on bridges and tunnels, went up.

The M.T.A. stated, “The M.T.A. board will consider all public feedback before adopting any new fare structure, and as demonstrated in the past, the board is not limited to the proposals already put forward.”

As of last week, the authority was said to be choosing between two fare-hike proposals.

The first option would keep the base fare at $2.75 and eliminate the upfront MetroCard bonus for weekly and monthly fare cards while upping the 30-day “unlimited ride” MetroCard to $127 — an increase of $6.

Under the second option, the base fare would be raised to $3 and the bonus raised to 10 percent, while the seven-day MetroCard would go up by $1, to $33. But this week the New York Post reported a fare hike is coming.

The Nov. 27 board meeting was held at Baruch College’s Mason Hall, at 17 Lexington Ave., at 23rd St. Many came to the microphone to testify. Among the speakers of note was Curtis Sliwa, who heads the Guardian Angels, a volunteer security force that patrols the subways among other areas within the city.

“Yesterday we had an historic event with the landing on Mars but on the same day, we had signal failures on our new No. 7 subway,” Sliwa said, dramatically.

Also testifying was George Haikalis, of the Institute for Rational Mobility (IRUM), who also supports bringing back a crosstown trolley on Eighth St.

“IRUM strongly opposes the M.T.A.’s fare hikes,” Haikalis said. “A coherent strategy of ‘carrots and sticks’ is needed. Endless ‘sticks’ — like fare hikes combined with more ‘sticks’ like toll hikes — won’t do it.”

Haikalis urged the M.T.A. to work with the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council and its partners in the metro area to launch a comprehensive study on how the region should fund its public transportation network.

With the pending financial shortfall within the M.T.A., the authority is looking at all options, including fare hikes and a workforce reduction to make ends meet.

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