Subway Fare Hikes Might Arrive Before Your Train Does


Published: October 2, 2008

This summer I encountered first-hand the frustration of commuting with the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) while traveling every day to Rose Hill for work. The MTA became my constant companion for the summer, though the only constant thing about this companionship was my irritated feeling. The core of this irritation was the Bx12 bus, a 17-minute bus ride that would usually turn into a 30-minute long, overcrowded agony during which it was an accomplishment to even find a seat. The subway was no exception. On my first day of work, I waited more than 30 minutes for an uptown A train that decided to make my stop the last stop. I arrived to work an hour late that day. These are just personal samples of frustration with the MTA, but I am not alone in being disappointed.

From service changes to long wait times and many other grievances, the subway and bus lines servicing the “capital of the world” fail to live up to the city’s reputation. This issue prevails throughout the MTA’s 2007 Rider Reports, available on the official MTA Web site. In the Rider Reports, subway riders stated that there were many improvements to be made. In these Rider Reports, MTA customers rated subway lines on a letter grade system and listed improvements they thought were necessary to improve the line. A majority of the lines received a C- or below, with the Times Square-Grand Central Shuttle earning the highest grade of B- and more than one subway line receiving the lowest grade of D+. Most of the riders’ suggestions for improvement were minimal delays during trips, adequate room on board during rush hour and reasonable wait times for trains. Similarly, the bus lines’ Rider Report gave local bus service a C- and express bus service a C. It’s safe to say the MTA is wavering between mediocrity and failure.

This past spring, customers saw price increases in unlimited MetroCards, as well as increased costs per ride on the Pay-Per-Ride MetroCards. These sudden changes left many MTA customers wondering where their money was going. Despite the fare increase, the subways and buses failed to deviate from the status quo of bad service.

With another proposed hike by the MTA for next July, it seems as if those who depend on public transportation have a bleak future of paying for the MTA’s budget deficits. However, earlier this month Senator Clinton proposed legislation that includes $237 million to fund New York City mass transportation, reasoning that the public transit system should be able to keep up with increased demand “without sacrificing service and increasing fares.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.

As we saw during the 2005 transit strike, the bus fleets and subway lines constitute the backbone of New York City. According to the United States Census Bureau, 54 percent of New York City households rely on public transportation. In addition, many out-of-state and suburban commuters rely on New York’s public transportation. It should be the priority of the city to make sure the MTA is funded in order to provide public transportation that keeps up with the pace of the city. Granted, with a daily ridership of eight and a half million people, it won’t be easy; however, that is exactly why New York City should subsidize the transportation agency that keeps the city running. With this additional funding, the MTA would be able to deliver the improved service customers have been waiting for: being able to find a seat on a bus or subway car, not having to wait for trains that won’t show up and getting to work or school on time. Subway and bus riders should be able to depend on the MTA, not dread it. It’s time for the city to accept its responsibility in helping the MTA to provide the transportation New Yorkers deserve.