By NATHAN DUKE
MTA Chairman Joe Lhota proposed two 4-percent rate hikes last week that would take effect in 2019 and 2021, but a spokesman with the agency said that a concrete plan has not been proposed and that details would not likely be available until later this year.
During a board meeting on July 25, Lhota said that the transit system had seen a decline in ridership due to service, fare evasion and for-hire vehicles, and MTA officials have said that fare hikes would address budget deficits.
A spokesman for the MTA said that the agency “has not put forward any fare increase,” and that if such a rate hike were proposed for 2019, the details would not be known until after public hearings were held on the matter later this year or early next year.
“The MTA has been in a pattern since 2009 that there has been a fare increase in odd years,” the MTA spokesman said, adding that a 4-percent increase “would conform to the overall pattern.”
In 2009, the MTA raised base fares from $2 to $2.75. Single subway rides rose in 2015 from $2.50 to $2.75, while seven-day unlimited MetroCards went from $30 to $31 and monthly passes increased from $112 to $116.50.
Last year, the MTA bumped up fares on subways, buses, Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road by 4 percent, but kept its base subway fare at $2.75.
During last week’s meeting, Lhota said that the “state of emergency” that Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared in the summer of 2017 regarding the city’s subway system remains in place, and that a Subway Action Plan to improve MTA service is ongoing.
Queens residents were upset that the MTA might propose raising its rates again next year.
“They just went up!” said a rider named LaToya, 33, from Forest Hills. “I get that they need money for these upgrades they’re talking about. But that was the excuse last time, and what have we got? The subway still sucks. The city is so money-hungry that they just want to take, take, take so much that those who live here leave. People are so worried about housing—but public transportation today is gentrification at its finest.”
Another rider, Nancy Roja, 36, agreed that she hasn’t seen noticeable results from the MTA since the last time it proposed a rate hike.
“The MTA does not know how to manage its funds,” she said. “They keep upping prices, but then studies come out saying that they need money. Where is our hardworking money going?”
A 33-year-old Sunnyside rider who only gave his name as “Luis” said that the MTA’s increased rates should come with increased service.
“If they’re doubling the fare, they need to increase the transfers,” he said. “I take three buses daily, so I’m paying double to get to one place. How is that fair? The MTA is one of my least-favorite agencies in this city because they clearly don’t care about hardworking New Yorkers.”
Ariel Hernandez and Trone Dowd contributed to this story.