Service Cuts, Fare Increases and Overcrowded Trains? MTA Has Done It Again


Published: April 15, 2010

On any given evening at the Columbus Circle subway station, dozens of commuters wait for the downtown D train on a platform littered with candy wrappers, dirt and the occasional rat. Expressions of disappointment are clearly visible on riders’ faces as another A train approaches the platform. The D is late yet again.

This story may sound familiar to many students who depend on the train for their daily commute. Unfortunately, the situation will only become worse. Students who use trains and buses should brace themselves for impending cuts this June, with fare hikes to follow.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has approved a series of service cuts that will completely eliminate two subway lines and dozens of bus routes in the city. The severe cuts will also create longer and even more crowded trips for transit riders.

Under the approved plan, the V line will be eliminated, and the M will be rerouted through Manhattan and Queens to replace it. The W will also be eliminated, and the Q will replace it in Astoria. Bus riders will lose 34 bus lines, and several others will be rerouted. The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) will reduce service, and the Metro-North Railroad will eliminate several trains.

The cuts were implemented to close a budget gap of over $400 million and will go into effect in June. In addition, a 7.5 percent fare increase in the base subway and bus fare is scheduled for next year.

Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) students seem anything but pleased about the proposed service cuts and fare increases. Many students are worried that the upcoming cuts in service will result in longer commutes and unreliable service, adding to the constant fear of not making it to class on time.

“I’m worried about getting to school on time because the MTA is planning on severely reducing the express bus service between Manhattan and Staten Island,” said Maria Paronich, FCLC ’11. “Two of the buses I can take are on the list of those being cut, so I’ll have to leave earlier or take the train, ferry and train, which is less convenient for me.”

“I worry about making it to class all the time,” said Nick Sulicki, FCLC ’11. “One day I can be traveling 30 minutes and the next day I can be traveling over an hour. With the cuts, I don’t know how I will be affected,  but it does scare me.”

Even those who have no trouble getting to school find they will be affected in other ways.

“I live close enough to school to make it on time,” said Andrew Padilla, FCLC ’11. “My real concern is having to take cabs home each Friday and Saturday night for 15 dollars a pop to avoid waiting 45 minutes for a packed local train.”

“I don’t have to worry about getting to class on time,” said Amelia Zaino, FCLC ’12. “Though my neighborhood in the Bronx is getting its bus service cut in half, somehow, our Manhattan links have been spared. But I am worried about traveling inside of Manhattan, since I rely on the N, R and W lines to get to the West Side from the 6. If the W is cut, the other two lines will be really crowded and delayed.”

And the prospect of fare increases is overwhelming for students who are often already burdened by living costs and tuition payments.

“I think the price increases are ridiculous,” Paronich said. “They just raised the prices last year. I take the express bus from Staten Island, and it already costs 11 dollars a day to go to school. Most people worry about tuition payments and now we have to worry about transportation costs as well.”

“More for less is always a bad idea,” Padilla said. “The MTA already tried the same strategy in the 1960s and 1970s, but it did not lead to increased revenue. Instead, it led to decreased ridership, which meant less revenue and even larger budget deficits that the MTA then tried to fill with even higher fares. This is just history repeating itself.”

Whether it’s getting to class late because of delays or paying more because of rate increases, many students have expressed frustration concerning the overall quality of the MTA.

“The stations are dirty, smelly and infested with rodents,” said Johanna Gaymer, FCLC ’10. “Many of the stations need to be renovated. It also seems that the MTA takes too much time with maintenance, sometimes causing delays and major inconveniences during times when the subways are needed most.”

“The MTA is a 100-year-old system managed by a corrupt, government/private industry hybrid that has been cooking books for years,” Padilla said. “There are stations on the M line that are about to collapse to the ground, and stations such as 96th Street on the red line that have been under renovation with no improvement for over seven years.”

“I think the MTA seems unorganized,” said Anthony Elder, FCLC ’11. “In cities like Boston, the trains seem to run much more efficiently and on a schedule that seems pretty closely adhered to. But did you ever try catching a train in Manhattan at 3 a.m.? Good luck.”

Many students are quick to point out what they’d like to see the MTA change. It seems that almost everyone can think of something they hope to see the MTA improve upon.

“I’d be a happy man if the MTA could expediently renovate stations in danger of collapsing, tracks in danger of breaking and find a way manage its books effectivly enough to not raise fares while cutting services,” Padilla said.

“I would like to see cleaner trains and stations,” said Lauren Black, FCLC ’12. “I would also like to see more frequent service if they are going to increase the fare, not cutbacks on service. Also, I think they should improve the PA systems in the stations and on some trains because you can’t always hear and understand announcements.”

“There should be more trains on the weekends, especially since many of the lines run local and the trains subsequently become much more crowded,” said Jennifer Morano, FCLC ’12.

Though many are disappointed and burdened by the upcoming service cuts and fare hikes, the MTA is still vital to students. Both residents and commuters will share in the inconvenience; no one will be unharmed. Whether you depend on the train to get to school, use it for leisure travel or go home for break via either the LIRR or Metro-North, you will not escape the effects of the upcoming cuts.