MTA hike too much?

As commuters, when we hear of the Metropolitan Transit Authority proposing another fare hike can you blame us for rolling our eyes?

On September 24, the MTA offered two options for raising the fare and toll revenue to 6.5 percent next year. The original $2 bus and subway fare would jump to $2.25 next year, but commuters can get a break if the MTA uses a new method in which they will offer new peak and off-peak pricing discounts. They believe with these discounts the rush-hour crowds can be reduced.

The MTA has two possible plans for bus and subway riders, including those commuters who drive, using bridges and tunnels. Both options would raise the original fare to $2.25.
The first would be to increase fare prices within the present fare structure. Authorities have proposed raising the price of a 7-day unlimited card, which is now $24 to as high as $26, and taking a 30-day MetroCard now $76 to as high as $82. Those riders putting $10 on a MetroCard would still get an extra $2 bonus, but they will not get very far with the new $2.25 fare.
The other proposition would be to make it cheaper to ride during off-peak hours. With this plan MetroCards would no longer carry a bonus and would be strictly pay-per-ride.

A discount would be available to anyone who puts at least $6 on a pay-per-ride MetroCard. During peak hours, passengers with those cards would be charged $2 for each ride, a discount from the new $2.25 base fare.

A discounted fare of $1.50 would be available to MetroCard users during off-peak hours. The MTA still has not determined which hours would be considered peak travel time, but officials say it would most likely coincide with the morning and evening rushes.

Susan Kupferman, the MTA Chief Operating Officer believes rush-hour overcrowding could be ceased if some commuters shifted the times of their trips. “Even a small percentage shift equates to millions of rides a year,” she said.

Honestly, who is willing to interrupt their travel time in order to be charged less? As commuters we are faced with deadlines and busy schedules, therefore we do not have time to create our schedules around the MTA.

The authority will begin plans for the fare increase next month and then hold public hearings in November. The authority board is expected to vote in December on how to proceed. Any increase would be expected to take effect next February.

The annoyed reactions to these proposals are no surprise. As St. John’s students, we cannot rearrange our schedules to appreciate the discounts. Students have not taken this fare hike well. “It’s great especially having a class at 6:45 in the evening and the professor cancels,” says sophomore, Angela Alfinito sarcastically.

“It happened twice. It takes two hours from Manhattan to get here and then my three-hour class gets canceled,” she continued.

“I think that’s way too much. I guess I’m going to have to start driving,” says sophomore student Maria Boletsis.

Even though the MTA is expected to end this year with a surplus of about $1 billion, it’s predicting large deficits in 2009 because of the years of borrowing.

Although the MTA is trying to increase the fare in order to avoid a financial crisis, it is hard for commuters to feel sympathy when we are receiving the burden.

The MTA needs to develop a better plan that would not cost us more money in the future.

At the rate they are going, there will be a fare hike every few years. If they are going to increase the fare, at least make the rides more accommodating for the riders who have to deal with the crowds and delays. Who wants to pay more, when the service is so bad?