PCAC Testimony – February 27, 2019 – Fare Increase

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PCAC Testimony to the
Board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
on Proposed Fare Increases – February 27, 2019

My name is Lisa Daglian, and I am the Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC).

We mourn the loss of life last night and appreciate the LIRR response. We urge expediting the elimination of grade crossings.

Today you’ll be voting on a fare hike, postponed from last month. Certainly, a lot has changed since then – even since we were here on Monday – but what has not changed is the dire financial situation of our entire transit network and the need to raise fares to prevent service cuts. From all accounts you’ll be voting on Option 1, which would leave the base fare for the subway at $2.75 and eliminate the bonuses for any cards over $5.50, a round trip on the subway. Weekly and monthly cards would also go up. Since the majority of commuters – the regular riders of the system – take advantage of the discounts, their fares will effectively go up, while the occasional user, and tourists, will not feel any pain. We don’t think that’s in the best interest of everyday riders. We do appreciate that Access-A-Ride users won’t see a fare increase and we support the expansion of E-hail. At the same time, we also wonder why the vote was delayed a month at a cost of tens of millions of dollars to the cash-starved system when this proposal was already on the table.
Fares on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North are also slated to go up, but now with a cap of $460 a month. While that’s more palatable than a $500 a month cap, we still believe that there should be a discount for commuters who purchase a monthly pass and MetroCard combination. On another note, even though Metro-North and LIRR customers will be paying more, they seemingly don’t have a seat at the newly proposed Regional Transit Committee. That’s a wrong that needs to be righted. Rightfully outraged Metro-North West-of-Hudson riders should not be made to pay a dime more until service is reliably restored – and they should finally get the same three-month discount that NJTransit riders received.

The ten-point proposal made yesterday by the Mayor and the Governor would limit fare increases to inflationary increases of 2% per year, making it a known quantity and hopefully meaning less sturm and drang every year. We all know that money needs are great and funding options are not. New, sustainable funding sources are critical to keeping the system on track, including the congestion pricing plan outlined yesterday. Obviously, no one wants a fare hike, but the alternative of service cuts is even worse. We cannot go back to the bad old days – our region is still recovering from cuts of years past. We cannot afford to lose the valuable transit resources that keep the region competitive.

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