on Settlement and Proposed Fare Hike
December 17, 2002
Campaign applauds Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union and the Metropolitan
Transportation Authority for agreeing to a contract settlement.
Over the last twenty
years, improved subways and buses have been one of the city's real success
stories. Transit workers and management both deserve great credit for
this turnaround. Monday's agreement acknowledges the key role of both,
by providing raises for workers and new ways for managers to improve
productivity to benefit riders and hold down expenses.
Now, public attention
turns to the MTA's proposal to hike fares to as much as $2. We hope
for a vigorous debate on fares and service. Among the key questions
- Are the MTA's
financial problems so severe that many vulnerable New Yorkers must
be socked with a whopping 50-cent-a-ride increase in a recession?
Many have asked for an independent review of MTA finances, give widespread
concern about how a $24.6 million surplus for city and suburban transit
in 2002 turns into a projected $1.1 billion deficit in 2003.
- What is a fair
burden to place on transit riders? We already pay 60% of the costs
of operating the system. That's the highest fare box burden in the
nation; the national average is 40%. A $2 fare will likely propel
that burden to astronomical heights, perhaps 75% or higher.
- Are alternatives
possible, such as reinstating the commuter tax to hold down fares?
There would be more support for a renewed commuter tax if the proceeds
were used to keep Long Island Rail Road, MetroNorth and city subway
and bus fares affordable. More than two-thirds of suburban riders
switch to city subways during their weekday commutes.
- Will there be
service cuts even with a $2 fare? News accounts report that transit
officials will push to close or reduce hours at more than 180 token/Metrocard
booths in the subways.
- Will the city
and state try to cut subsidies to the system? Mayor Bloomberg has
already issued ominous warnings that the city will seek to cut back.
New York City contributes less than 5% of New York City Transit budget,
about $225 million out of $4.8 billion. That's already too little
for a system that the city owns.
we improve unlimited-ride MetroCards, especially making them more
accessible to low-income riders? This is key, especially if the MTA
more deeply discounts the passes. The Straphangers Campaign has made
several recommendations towards this goal, including having the MTA
replace lost or stolen 30-day and sell 14-day unlimited-ride passes
and flexible passes good for five non-consecutive days. (See www.straphangers.org
for more details.)
- Will transit
riders be socked harder than motorists? The MTA's current options
call for greater percentage increases for subway and bus riders than
motorists. That's wrong. The MTA should give serious consideration
to higher peak period tolls to reduce rush hour congestion.
on the settlement - and on to the next debate.
For more information,
Gene Russianoff (212) 349-6460