The Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Monday proposed raising the base fare for a single New York City subway, bus or paratransit ride 5 percent, to $2.90 from $2.75 — the first increase to the base fare since 2015.
The proposal would raise the cost of a seven-day MetroCard 3 percent, to $34 from $33, and the cost of a 30-day MetroCard would go up 4 percent, to $132 from $127, their first increases since 2019. Fares for express bus service, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad would also rise, as would tolls at the authority’s bridges and tunnels.
If the authority’s board approves the increases, which are expected to generate $305 million a year in revenue, they would take effect no later than Labor Day, officials said.
Why It Matters
New York City’s transit network, the largest in the United States, is a vital lifeline that millions of people rely on every day, especially to get to and from work.
Even operating at just 70 percent of its prepandemic ridership levels, the subway has carried four million passengers on several weekdays since last month.
The authority sought to mitigate the effect of the proposed increases on working New Yorkers by raising them more modestly on weekly and monthly MetroCards, officials said. Nonetheless, any increase in essential costs at a time of high inflation is likely to have an impact.
Danny Pearlstein, a spokesman for the Riders Alliance, an advocacy group, said that a fare increase was inevitable, but he urged Mayor Eric Adams to expand eligibility for the city’s Fair Fares program, which offers half-price fares for poor New Yorkers who qualify.
“Riders need our mayor to step in to help those least able to afford the hike,” Mr. Pearlstein said.
The proposed increase is not as large as it might have been. Before Gov. Kathy Hochul, who controls the authority, and lawmakers enacted this year’s state budget, the M.T.A. faced a huge deficit that was partly the result of the pandemic’s impact on ridership.
The final budget included a payroll tax on large New York City businesses that was geared toward mass transit, made a one-time payment of $300 million to the authority and earmarked an additional $65 million to reduce any potential for a larger increase.
The subway has struggled financially since at least the 1970s, when a municipal fiscal crisis exacerbated the myriad problems caused by the system’s crumbling infrastructure. To help stave off further decay, lawmakers moved in the 1980s to allow the authority to issue bonds, but the agency’s debt has exploded since then, and expenses have outpaced income.
The pandemic created new financial headaches, with riders abandoning the subway and buses, depleting critical fare revenue.
The authority board expects to hold public hearings on the proposal next month and to vote on it in July.