Guest Op-Ed: Say No To MTA Fare Hikes

It’s that time of year again: time for another transportation fare and toll increase. It seems that each fall, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) decides to raise fares and tolls on the backs of commuters and drivers. This fall is no different.

Last month, the MTA proposed a new series of fare increases. A fare and toll hike in 2013 – a likely scenario – would be the fourth such increase in five years and in both proposed scenarios, the new fare options would hit the residents of Brooklyn particularly hard.

In one proposed scenario, the base fare for city buses and subways would go up 25 cents to $2.50 and the 7% bonus on the unlimited MetroCard would be gone. For riders, that means upwards of $200 more a year in commuting costs. In another scenario, the unlimited 30-day MetroCard would go up 20% from $104 to $125. That would equal $252 more a year.

Those who ride express buses to Manhattan each day would have to pay the biggest price. Currently, the base express bus fare is $5.50 and a 7-day unlimited-ride Express Bus Plus MetroCard valid on express buses, subways and city buses is $50. Under Proposal 1, the MTA says the base fare would rise to $6. Under Proposal 1A, the effective per-trip cost of an express bus ride would rise 47 cents to $5.61 with the unchanged MetroCard bonus discount, and the 7-day Express Bus Plus MetroCard would rise to $55. Under Proposal 1B, the bonus discount is eliminated and the effective per-trip cost would rise 86 cents to be the same as the base fare of $6. Under this proposal, the 7-day pass would rise to $52.

Under Proposal 2, the MTA says the base fare would remain unchanged. Under Proposal 2A, the effective per-trip cost of an express bus ride would rise 10 cents to $5.24 and the 7-day pass would rise to $57. Under Proposal 2B, which eliminates the bonus discount, the effective per-trip cost would rise 36 cents to $5.50, while the 7-day pass would rise to $55.

You got all that? In that jumble of proposals only one thing is clear: It’s going to cost more to commute! That would be devastating to all New Yorkers, but even more so, for the ones living in Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Canarsie, Marine Park, Mill Basin and Sheepshead Bay, to name a few, because these areas are so underserved by public transportation.

It’s not like driving is any cheaper. Gas prices continue to rise and at river crossings, those who use the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, for example, would see the toll jump from $6.50 to $7.50 (it would go from $4.80 to $5.30 for E-ZPass users.) To cross the Verrazano Bridge, the cash round-trip toll would go from $13 to $15 (E-ZPass users would see it rise from $9.60 to $10.60.)

All these increases would truly hurt businesses and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce is here to fight for you! Even if you don’t drive, you should care about a toll increase. Trucks and other vehicles would also have to pay more, which will be reflected in the higher price of shipped goods. That affects all businesses – big and small – as we enter 2013. It also affects all of us who shop in the borough and region every day.

Running a mass transit system and a sprawling network of bridges and tunnels is a difficult task. I understand that. What I don’t understand is why the MTA, a state agency, continues to balance its books on the backs of everyday New Yorkers. We are the ones who ride the buses and trains to get to work each day. The MTA needs to look to the city, state and surrounding suburban counties for increased assistance. Only with their funding partners helping out will fares stay at current levels. The MTA has publicly stated that mass transit riders in New York receive fewer state subsidies than their counterparts in the other metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco.

As head of the Brooklyn Chamber, my goal is to serve as an advocate for local businesses. At a time when the economy is starting to show signs of growth – with national unemployment steadily decreasing and consumer spending rising – any increases would only hamper the positive strides made over the past few months. These increases would stall the economic progress we have made and ensure that businesses are on the fast-track to financial disaster.

Now is the time to make our voices heard. The MTA will hold a hearing on the issue on Wednesday, November 7, at the Brooklyn Marriott at 333 Adams Street. Please join me at our only public opportunity to speak out before the MTA board votes on the increases in December.

I will be at the hearing to ensure that fares – especially on express buses – remain unchanged. This is a bad time for a fare and toll increase. The MTA needs to hear that from us!

Carlo A. Scissura is President & CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. To join the Chamber, please visit or call 1-718-875-1000. 

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