Hearings on MTA fare hikes to begin this week; here’s how you can participate

MTA Chairman Patrick Foye. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

By Mark Hallum

Ahead of a series on public hearings about fare hikes hosted by Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials, the pushback against what critics call a “regressive tax” on essential workers has already begun.

The cash-strapped MTA revealed a plan at its November board meeting to raise fares by at least 4% and a virtual hearing process on the subject, beginning on Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m., as they attempt to shore up their finances ravaged by COVID-19.

According to transit advocacy group, the Riders Alliance, the MTA should be focused on providing more service as what feels like the home stretch of the pandemic plays out, avoiding 40% service cuts on subways and buses as well.

Part of this means the restoration of 24/7 subway service which was indefinitely suspended in May for extensive sanitizing during the hours of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.

“Governor Cuomo shouldn’t hike transit fares for essential workers and New Yorkers with no other option, especially as we face the real potential of a second COVID wave. Now more than ever, the subway and bus fare is a regressive tax. Rather than raising substantial new funds for public transit, higher fares will also drive potential riders away from the MTA and restrict our overall ability to recover economically,” Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum said. “To advance an equitable recovery, the governor must bring back overnight subway service, double down on the services and supports New Yorkers most need, and hold the line against regressive transit fare hikes and doomsday service cuts.”

The MTA, as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo, have repeated that the overnight closures would remain in place as long as COVID-19 poses a threat to riders and their employees who have suffered disproportionately from the virus.

Among the fare proposals being floated by the MTA are a 2% to 4% increase on all ticket types or the elimination of 7- and 30-day unlimited passes which offer discounts to daily commuters by through extra rides.

The dates and times for hearings are as follows:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 5:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 2, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. (virtual)
  • Thursday, Dec. 3, at 10 a.m.
  • Monday, Dec. 7, at 5:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 8, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (virtual)
  • Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 5:30 p.m.
  • Monday, Dec. 14, at 5:30 p.m.
  • Monday, Dec. 21, at 10 a.m.

A final decision on the these increases will come at the December board meeting where they are required to adopt a balanced budget for 2021 and will be especially looking to find $12 billion to fund operations through the end of next year.

Learn how you can register to comment and view these hearings by visiting new.mta.info/2020hearings.

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