MTA Fare Increases Resume


Riders will pay more per ride after Aug. 20

After a pause to ride out the tumultuous pandemic years, the MTA is once again implementing scheduled fare increases to keep up with operating costs, ridership deficits, and inflation. In addition to raising the cost per ride, the MTA is also eliminating some pilot programs, while modifying or creating others.
Larry Penner, former Director for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office of Operations and Program Management, provided some insight into these changes. This information has been edited for length and clarity.
History of the fare increase
“Fare increases for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority NYC transit bus, subway and Staten Island Railway, along with Long Island Rail Road and Metro North Rail Road, were already assumed in 2019 as part of the approval process for the $51 billion 2020 – 2024 Five Year Capital Plan. Former Governor Andrew Cuomo, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and members of the New York State Legislature and New York City Council were all in on this financial arrangement before signing on board. This included 4 percent increase in 2021 and 2023.”
Additional Funding
“Albany provides the MTA significant annual funding under the Statewide Transportation Operating Assistance (STOA) program. Washington via Federal Transit Administration grants, riders via farebox and motorists via tolls continue to pay their fair share. In 2023, the Federal Transit Administration will provide the MTA with annual $1.8 billion in formula funding under various grant programs. This will grow by several hundred million more annually in coming years.”
Reason for the increase
“Fare hikes are periodically required if the MTA and operating agencies such as the NYC Transit bus and subway, MTA Bus, LIRR and Metro North are to provide the services millions of New Yorkers count on daily. They are inevitable, due to increasing costs of labor, power, fuel, supplies, materials, routine safety, state of good repair, replacement of worn-out rolling stock, upgrades to stations, yards and shops as well as system expansion projects necessary to run any transit system and inflation.”
Pandemic pause
“Receipt of $16 billion in CARE COVID-19 funding from Washington under Federal Transit Administration grants was never intended to support cancellation of future fare increases. It was made available to make up for lost revenues during this period and maintain service levels. In any case, most of these funds have already been spent.”
Affordability of the service
“MTA services continue to be one of the best bargains in town. Since the 1950s, the average cost of riding either the bus, subway or commuter rail has gone up at a lower rate than either the consumer price index or inflation. The Metro Card introduced in 1996 affords a free transfer between bus and subway. Prior to this, riders had to pay two full fares. Many residents purchase either a weekly or monthly NYC Transit bus/subway Metro or OMNY Card, LIRR or Metro North ticket to further reduces the cost per ride.”
Eliminating 20-ride pass
“The MTA made a mistake in abolishing the 20 ticket pass. In a post COVID-19 era, fewer people need a full-blown monthly pass when they are only going into the city three times a week.”
The bottom line
“In the end, quality and frequency of service is dependent upon secure revenue streams. We all will have to contribute — be it at the fare box or tax revenues generated by different levels of government redistributed back to the MTA. Like it or not, MTA fare increases are justified in 2023.”

Changes to MTA fares in 2023
Changes to LIRR fares
• Monthly and Weekly tickets will increase by up to 4.5 percent.
• Thanks to the additional 10 percent discount implemented in March 2022, monthly fares will remain lower than they were pre-COVID.
• Recognizing the high fares in the farthest railroad zones, Monthly ticket fares will not exceed $500.
• The discount for traveling off-peak will be standardized to 26 percent across both railroads. (Until now, LIRR’s discount was 27.5 percent.)
• This will lead to slightly higher increases of 6 to 7 percent on LIRR Off-Peak tickets and slightly lower increases of 2 to 3 percent on Metro-North Off-Peak tickets.
• All other ticket types will increase by as much as 10 percent; however, any ticket increase greater than 6 percent will be held to a maximum increase of $0.50 per trip.
• LIRR and Metro-North will continue to offer UniTicket fares to travel on both commuter rail and connecting bus and ferry services. Changes in those fares will be based in part on changes to weekly and monthly transit fares. One-way tickets for MTA-managed connecting services will also change.
• Policies regarding the calculation of onboard fares and refunds will remain unchanged.
• All tickets purchased at the old fare will continue to be valid through their stated expiration dates.

Changes to NYCT, LIRR, and
Metro-North fare pilots

A more flexible fare-capping pilot with OMNY
OMNY customers will continue to get the best weekly fare. Your first tap starts a new 7-day cap. If you spend $34 (or $17 for Reduced-Fare customers) within a seven-day period, you ride free for the rest of that week. If you spend less, you only pay for the rides you take. The cap resets every seven days. Group trips, express bus taps, and transfers do not count toward the weekly cap.
More CityTicket pilot options
CityTicket currently offers customers a $5 flat-fare ticket to travel within New York City limits during all off-peak hours. MTA is introducing a Peak CityTicket for travel during weekday peak hours for $7.
MTA is also introducing a special ticket for customers traveling to Far Rockaway on the LIRR at the same price as the typical CityTicket.
Atlantic Ticket and 20-Trip Peak ticket pilots discontinued
As the MTA adopts new CityTicket pilots, and in the interest of standardizing and simplifying commuter railroad fares, both the $5 One-Way Atlantic Ticket and $60 Weekly Atlantic Ticket will be discontinued.
The 20-Trip Peak ticket, introduced in 2022 to encourage infrequent customers to commute more regularly, will be discontinued as post-COVID travel patterns continue to return to normal.
—Information compiled by Amanda Olsen


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