Fare Hikes in New York City: The First Major Urban Casualty of the Financial Crisis?

Yesterday the New York MTA voted for a raft of fare hikes and service cuts, claiming the MTA is broke and that the state’s stimulus funding will be too little too late. Is this the first major urban infrastructure casualty of the financial crisis?

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There’s the pizza to subway fare ratio to consider. Usually the cost of a subway ride is about the same as a slice of pizza. When I lived in Ft. Greene a year ago, my neighborhood pizzeria, Not Ray’s, raised its prices to $2.25 (I remember when it was just $1.75 and you saved that quarter for laundry). I knew the fare hike was coming. And here it came: the base cost of a subway ride will be $2.50, effective May 31st.

I’m conflicted about whether to complain. Depending on where you take the subway, $2.50 is either a rational rate, or it’s a crime. The real part that I have trouble swallowing is the ballooning of the unlimited fare card to $103 per month. Yes, this is still really cheap when you compare the cost to driving a car (all that gas, maintenance, insurance, etc.), but it’s still a decent chunk of change. For the average twenty-something professional who takes home about $400 a week, it could be as much as 6 percent of that person’s income. Is 6 percent a good rate? Maybe. Discuss.

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Diana Lind is the former executive director and editor in chief of Next City.

Tags: new york citypublic transportationtransit agencies

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