Commuter Doomsday Plan Downgraded to Gloomsday

The MTA board has approved a new package that will raise fares for subways and commuter trains, but the increased costs aren’t as bad as were originally envisioned. The new plan sees subway fare jacked up to $2.25, and commuter rails going up an average of 10% as of June 17.

The New York Times reports:

The vote on the scaled-down increases came five days after the Legislature approved a $2.26 billion financing deal for the agency. The authority chairman, H. Dale Hemmerdinger, called the new fares “a very bittersweet solution that comes with additional pain,” even though it averted layoffs.

The MTA still faces a massive budget gap that may lead to service cuts, but it’s not as bad as was previously thought.  

Reporter Clyde Haberman, from whom we borrowed the Doomsday-Gloomsday wordplay in the headline, said the latest development is hardly a win for anyone–transit riders, Albany, the MTA.

Fares and tolls may not skyrocket but they are nonetheless going up, and at a time when New Yorkers’ pockets are shallower than a Hollywood summer movie. A new fare-rescuing payroll tax will hurt many businesses, not to mention nonprofit organizations already operating on a shoestring. Trains are sure to become dirtier because cleaning crews are scheduled to shrink. And nobody can swear with fingers uncrossed that the worst is over.

If the powers in Albany patted themselves any harder on the back for the transit bailout that they agreed to last week, they might have needed orthopedic surgery. But there is no absolute assurance that further service cuts or fare increases will not be required next year or even sooner.

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