New Yorkers will have one more thing to be thankful for this Thanksgiving as Gov. Spitzer called on the MTA to keep the subway and bus base fare at $2. But monthly and weekly MetroCard buyers should be expect to see their discounts slashed.
At a morning press conference Spitzer said:
I have been closely following the public hearings on the potential fare hike by the MTA and I’ve listened to the public’s serious concerns about paying more, especially while times are tight. At the same time, I am acutely aware of the need for state agencies and authorities to be fiscally responsible, pay down debt and plan for the future. So as the MTA considered a fare hike, my chief concern was making sure that fiscal responsibility was observed and that all avenues were explored before imposing an added burden on the public.
As the MTA updated its budget forecasts, their balance sheet yielded an additional $220 million. Based on the current economic climate that has so many New Yorkers feeling squeezed, it seemed only proper that this amount be returned to the riders. I am therefore calling on the MTA to use these funds to reduce the proposed fare and toll increase. This reduction will ease the burden for the millions of New Yorkers who use the MTA’s transportation network every day and will allow the MTA to hold the base fare for subways and buses to $2.00
And in the event that there was any question as to whether any governor of the state of New York controls the supposedly independent MTA board, the MTA the followed Spitzer’s announcement with a press release of its own:
The MTA announced year-end projections $220 million above the figures projected in July, when the agency’s preliminary financial plan was released. The additional $220 million was derived from the following sources:
Farebox revenue: $60 million due to an approximately one percent
increase in anticipated ridership
Real estate taxes: $60 million higher than expected
Underspending: $60 million saved
Debt service costs: $40 million saved
The MTA announced that it would reduce its proposed 6.5 percent fare and toll increase to return the entire $220 million to riders over the next two years, shared proportionately across the MTA’s operating agencies. The reduction will allow the MTA to hold the base fare for subway and bus riders at $2.00.
“The MTA is grateful to Governor Spitzer for his commitment to funding public transit and our four-year financial plan,” Sander said. “We are glad that revenues came in high enough to allow us to limit the fare increase and still address $6 billion in deficits over the next four years.”
MTA Chairman H. Dale Hemmerdinger joined the Governor and Sander in the announcement, and pledged to work with the Board to reach a conclusion in December.
“When I was confirmed I said I would listen to the public and review the numbers and I am thrilled that we are able to give something back,” Hemmerdinger said. “I believe this is a compromise that helps our customers without compromising our fiduciary responsibility, and I look forward to discussing it further with my fellow Board members.”