Subway and bus fares could rise 50 percent in next decade

You’d better start saving: In a decade, bus and subway fares in New York City could be 50 percent higher than they are now.

Timothy Boyd/Flickr

Timothy Boyd/Flickr

A new report from the New York City Independent Budget Office projects that come 2023, a 30-day MetroCard could cost $168 and a single ride would shoot up to $3.75.

If those projections hold, the cost of public transit in New York City would increase more than the projected 30 percent rise in the federal cost-of-living index over the same period. Were future Metropolitan Transportation Authority fare hikes to mirror inflation rates, a single ride would cost $3.25 and an unlimited 30-day MetroCard $145.

The IBO crunched the numbers at the request of the Straphangers Campaign, a rider-advocacy arm of the New York Public Interest Research Group. Its analyst derived the prognostication from the fare hikes promised in the current MTA financial plan, which include an increase in 2015 followed by another in 2017. Because ridership usually declines after a fare hike, the anticipated 8.4 percent increase in fares is expected to increase MTA revenue by just 7.5 percent.

“The constant fare hikes will burden the riders and discourage people from using mass transit and is just not sustainable in the long run,” said Gene Russianoff, attorney for the Straphangers Campaign. “We need aid from Albany to avoid these fare hikes.”

The MTA decided in 2009 to implement multiple “moderate” increases, said MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg on Tuesday morning, adding that it’s “way too early” to know what the actual fare hikes will be over the coming years.

“This report is hypothetical,” Lisberg said.

According to the IBO, revenues for New York City Transit and MTA Bus rides were roughly $3.8 billion in 2012, which cover about 55 percent of the $6.9 billion in operating expenses on subways and buses. The funds collected via fares are supplemented by state and local subsidies.

The MTA is looking to cut $1.3 billion in annual costs by 2017, a goal for which the agency is on track, Lisberg said.

The MTA’s biggest challenge is dealing with the rise of uncontrollable costs, such as pension funds, fuel and paratransit.

“We’re trying to cut into those costs,” Lisberg said.

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