With the MTA scheduled to hold a meeting on Monday, Jan. 21 regarding fare increases, State Senator Andrew Gounardes is urging its members to reconsider.
Due to decreased ridership during the COVID-19 pandemic, the MTA has struggled financially, even with a $4 billion federal stimulus that was agreed upon last month.
According to Bloomberg, the MTA estimates a budget deficit this year of nearly $500 million and a proposed four percent fare hike would bring in a projected $48 million of additional revenue in 2021.
The MTA schedules an increase of four percent every two years.
However, due to the financial struggles of New Yorkers, Gounardes contests that this is not a good strategy for this year.
“This is the absolute worst time to raise fares and tolls on the transit we all need, and would send our public transit system into a spiral of decline that would make it even harder to recover,” Gounardes said.
During his testimony at the MTA Virtual Fare and Toll Public Hearing, Gounardes said a fare hike increase would further decrease ridership.
“Increasing the cost of an unlimited Metrocard and raising already sky-high tolls would push families to the breaking point,” he said.
He also said the elimination of residential discounts on the Verrazzano Bridge, which are in danger of being cut.
“These changes will have a particular impact on New York City commuters who use the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, which, at a staggering $19, charges the highest toll of any bridge in the country,” he said. “This would further devastate southern Brooklyn commuters who have never benefited from a residential discount like their Staten Island counterparts traveling the other direction.”