June 19, 2020
During a recent transportation webinar in response to a question about plans for any fare increase as a result of COVID-19, MTA Chairman Pat Foye said, "In no uncertain terms there is no consideration toward imposing a fare hike in the worst-case scenario due to the COVID-19 ridership loss." What he failed to mention is the previous plan agreed upon by both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio. It included both congestion pricing and fare increases as part of a funding package to support the $51 billion MTA 2020 – 2024 Five Year Capital Plan.
This plan includes fare increases no greater than 2 percent per year. The MTA and State Legislature committed to fare increases occurring every two years. With a fare increase in 2019, the next would be in 2021. The MTA currently faces financial shortfalls in the billions for both capital and operating expenses. Any fare increase for NYC Transit local, express and select bus service, subway, Staten Island Railway, MTA Bus along with Long Island and Metro North Rail Roads could be up to 4%. There is still no guarantee that Congestion Pricing will begin in 2021.
Due to the economic recession as a result of COVID-19, billions anticipated from congestion pricing, real estate transfer, internet sales, along with other city and state taxes, will be lost. The result could be a larger fare increase in 2021. The alternative could be reductions in the level of service, frequency of maintenance along with delays to capital projects and programs to minimize any fare increases.
(Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked 31 years for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions in capital projects and programs for the MTA, NYC Transit, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North Rail Road MTA Bus, NYC DOT, New Jersey Transit along with 30 other transit agencies in NY & NJ)
Editor-in-Chief, Parkchester Times