New York’s MTA Poised for Fare Hike Debate Amid Ridership Drop
New York’sMetropolitan Transportation Authority faces a showdown on Jan. 21 on whether or not the debt-ridden agency should boost fares as riders struggle during the coronavirus pandemic.
The nation’s largest mass-transit system is set to discuss, and potentially vote on, anticipated fare and toll increases at its next board meeting after Congress last month agreed to send the MTA another $4 billion of aid as part of the latest federal coronavirus relief package.
Even with additional federal money, the MTA’s $17 billion budget for 2021 assumes a 4% increase in fares and tolls that the agency implements every two years. But that jump still requires board approval. Several board members have pushed back against raising those fees this year as New York City’s jobless ratemore than tripled to 12.1% in November from 3.6% the year before, according to New York’s Department of Labor.
“This is not the time to raise fares because our riders can’t afford it,” board member Neal Zuckerman, a senior partner and managing director at Boston Consulting Group, said during the MTA’s last board meeting on Dec. 16. “And there’s no way we’re going to close the gap on ridership whether with a 4% increase or a 40% increase.”
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