Riders of the city's public busses and trains are facing a significant fare increase if proposals by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority go into effect.
Metro is facing a $36.8 million budget deficit that it says could grow to over $200 million over the next decade if no changes are made. Two proposals are currently before the Metro board that would raise fares for nearly every type of ticket or pass.
One proposal that the board will consider in May would raise the basic $1.50 bus and rail fare to $1.75 in September, to $2 in four years and $2.25 in 2021. Seniors and the disabled would see their fare double to $1.10 and a monthly pass would cost an extra $25 a month. An alternative proposal would keep standard bus fares at $1.50 for non-peak hours but rise to $2.25 for rush hour. Peak hour fares would jump to $3.25 and a day pass would nearly triple to $13 - from the current $5 - in 2021.
Both proposals would include free transfers in the 90 minutes after a ticket is purchased. The MTA argues that without the fare increases it will be forced to make dramatic cuts in service.
But critics of the proposals say that the increase will price out the very people who make up the bulk of metro's riders. According to MTA, almost 80 percent of bus riders are Black and Latino, and the average household income of riders is just over $16,000.
Can Metro sustain the city's transportation service without raising fares? Will the fare increases price many residents out public transportation? Should Metro encourage more riders to take public transportation rather than raise fares for existing riders?
Rick Jagger, from Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Eric Mann, director of the Labor Community Strategy Center and co-chair of the Bus Riders’ Union