|MTA finance committee backs fare hikes
||[Dec. 18th, 2007|09:34 am]
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
MTA finance committee backs fare hikes
BY PETE DONOHUE, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Tuesday, December 18th 2007, 4:00 AM
A key MTA committee Monday approved fare hikes - even though the authority's data show subway trains are getting slower and more crowded.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's finance committee approved a 2008 budget with hikes 5 to 1 - a move committee Chairman Andrew Saul called a "mistake."
The full MTA board is expected to approve the increases for subways, buses and commuter trains tomorrow. Bridge and tunnel tolls also are rising.
The package, the third round of hikes since 2003, has been promoted by Gov. Spitzer and endorsed by Mayor Bloomberg.
In an earlier meeting Monday, NYC Transit President Howard Roberts said subway ridership since 2004 has increased 9.3%, but "during that time we've added virtually no service at all."
The monthly transit committee report included a series of subway statistics from a 12-month period ended this fall, compared with the same period in 2005:
# 11,025 delayed trains on average each month - up 86%.
# 93.1% on-time performance - down 3.2%.
# 151,611 miles traveled by trains each month on average before mechanical problems - down 15%.
# Rider injury rate up 7%.
The report blamed track work, signal upgrades, station repairs and other necessary projects for the increased delays. It said older cars on the lines have hurt the fleet's performance.
The MTA will end this year with a $521 million surplus, and can close next year's books with a sizable surplus, without higher fares and tolls, officials said.
Officials say a budget gap looms in 2009, and they are pushing the idea of increases every other year.
Saul noted that many state legislators have requested a delay in any hikes from March to mid-April, vowing to seek more mass transit funds during state budget deliberations starting next month.
"I don't feel Albany has done their fair share and I think it's a mistake to go ahead with fare increases now," Saul said. "I think this takes the pressure off them [to deliver more funds]."
After a review of MTA finances next April, transit officials may increase subway service on about a dozen lines. They also could expand or increase bus service on various routes, mostly between July and December, with $16 million in new initiatives.
The base subway-bus fare would remain at $2 while the monthly unlimited-ride MetroCard rises by $5 to $81. Most Metro-North and LIRR train fares will rise about 4%. Tolls for drivers with E-ZPass will increase up to 3.8%.