MTA Postpones Fare Hikes in Fear of Commuter Backlash

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It looks like MTA board members are finally starting to listen to commuters. After announcing impending fare and toll hikes, the board voted to postpone all increases after commuter outrage at the transit authority’s performance.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the MTA was in the midst of considering two separate proposals. One would not increase the base MetroCard fare and instead eliminate the bonus on bulk purchases. The second would raise the base fare to $3, reducing the overall bonus value. In addition, a 4% increase on LIRR tickets was expected along with a 4 to 8% increase on bridge and tunnel tolls.

But during negotiations, the board’s chair suggested that price increases should be tied to the MTA’s performance, with raises rolling back if metrics were not met. That would be a great plan for Long Island commuters, considering the LIRR just had its worst on-time performance in nearly two decades.

Ultimately the board decided it needed more time to consider the new options and delayed what was sure to be commuter uproar. Now fare hikes cannot be implemented until April at the earliest.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is in favor of halting hikes until serious reforms are put in place, telling the Wall Street Journal, “Money alone doesn’t solve the problem. Management reforms alone doesn’t solve the problem. You need both.”

But not everyone thinks an overhaul of the MTA will be that simple. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie believes that the Governor’s congestion pricing plan will be a hotly contested issue during state budget negotiations.

The MTA board and public officials should take a hint from commuters. When the MTA is too scared to charge riders more money, you know something is wrong.

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