The MTA Fare Hike Has a Silver Lining

Commuters are paying more for their rides at 42nd street subway station. Photo from Flickr.

 

MTA riders think service is getting worse, and they’re not happy about rising fares —but they’re still grateful for the city’s subway system.

The weekly MetroCard increased from $31 to $32 on March 19th Sunday. The monthly pass increased from $116.50 to $121, the pay-per-ride remained at $2.75 with a bonus decrease from 11 to five percent and the seven-day Express Bus Plus rose from $57.25 to $59.50.

In interviews with more than a dozen MTA users in Southern Brooklyn and on the Upper East Side recently, riders expressed support for the system despite its shortcomings.

“I don’t operate on the weekly or monthly,” said Sam Parson, 27, a street musician from Michigan. “I buy single fare so it doesn’t really affect me too much, but I know it’s coming.” His transportation fees cost 15 to 20 percent of the money he busks but said he’s grateful for the subway system because he wouldn’t have a job otherwise. “Other than that, I’m pretty happy. I can literally get to any place in town with my instruments for three bucks, which is crazy.”

Another rider shared similar mixed feelings about the new fare hike. “I’ve been here for 20 years. When I moved here, the monthly was like $57,” said Nicolas Letman, 45, from Ditmas Park. He recalls waiting for three trains to pass during rush hour before fitting into one. “It’s an okay system, but you go to Japan or France you could learn something,”  Letman said although trains here are never on time compared to Japan, he praises MTA’s around-the-clock service. “It’s 24 hours a day. That’s magic.”

“It could be a lot worse,” said Juliano Carrillo, 26, a GrowNYC Clothing Drop-off coordinator from Brooklyn, who doesn’t mind the hike, which he said is lenient compared to other states. “Every state is different. If you compare New York to Washington, D.C., you pay for where your destination is.”

Most of the money goes to pension and health-care costs for subway workers, which is why infrastructure and services seem to deteriorate. “If it’s going to the workers then I don’t have a problem with it,” said Lindsay Lisa, 32, who works in the Upper East Side.

“A lot of money is going into amenities which is not really essential, ” said Amy Jeu, 39, an NYC Geospatial Information Systems and Mapping Organization (GISMO) Board member.

She explains that customers are paying too much while services are not improving, and has ideas about where the money should be going instead. “They’ll do things like wifi access, signs that show us when the bus is coming, charging ports,” Jeu said. “I think it should be going into infrastructure and more trains coming to accommodate ridership.”
“Some students get subsidized MetroCards and that money comes from people who are working,” Jeu adds. Fortunately for middle to high school students like Ariana Stein, 11, they continue to commute for free. “I have a student MetroCard,” she said. “So I don’t have to pay for it.”

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