THE COMMUTE: This is the fourth year the MTA has performed a customer satisfaction survey in this format. I criticized past surveys for faulty methodology, not asking enough questions related to service, and too many about the riding environment. Rather than summarizing statistics as I did last year, I will make a few observations since there is little change since the previous survey. You can read my past reviews from 2012, 2011 and 2010 because those criticisms still apply to this year’s survey, which is still mostly meaningless.
Archive for the tag 'fare hikes'
THE COMMUTE: This past week the MTA unveiled a series of progressive initiatives, including additional restorations of service that were cut in June 2010. Prior to those service reductions, the media paid little attention to them. The headlines mainly revolved around the MTA’s plan to cut student fares. It wasn’t until years later, when the impacts were fully felt, that public outcry began and service restorations were made. The first round included the return of the truncated portions of the B4 and B64 — which were not replaced by other routes — earlier this year.
THE COMMUTE: Subway, bus, and railroad fares, as well as tolls for bridges and tunnels operated by the MTA, are all higher. The new subway and bus fare went into effect yesterday while the higher railroad fare took effect on Friday.
The new fare and toll prices can be found on links from the MTA’s home page. The base subway and bus fare is now $2.50 for a one way trip. Weekly and monthly unlimited passes are also higher. Are these higher fares and tolls fair? No. Were they necessary? You will have to decide that for yourself.
As mayoral candidate John Liu stated at the recent mayoral debate on transit issues, transit needs an ongoing revenue stream. As candidate Bill Thompson stated, we need to fund transit fairly, it needs to be more affordable and existing dollars need to be spent correctly. And as candidate Tom Allon stated, we need to think of more creative financing.
I couldn’t agree more with those statements.
In a previous article, I also asked the question: What’s A Fair Fare? I highlighted the need for a time-based fare rather than one that is vehicle-based and the need for free transfers between local, limited Select Buses, whereby those transfers do not preclude you from receiving a second transfer to another local, express bus or subway. The MTA must also re-institute its longstanding policy that service changes will not result in the necessity of extra fares.
We cannot continue to raise fares and tolls every two years or more frequently — it is not a long-term solution, especially when New Yorkers already pay for a higher portion of transit costs through the fare than any other major city. Sooner or later our elected officials will have to recognize that. I really have nothing more to say on the subject.
If you want to read more about what this new fare hike means to you, I suggest you read Ben Kabak’s article on Second Avenue Sagas.
The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).
Disclaimer: The above is an opinion column and may not represent the thoughts or position of Sheepshead Bites. Based upon their expertise in their respective fields, our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work, and their submissions are edited only for length, grammar and clarity. If you would like to submit an opinion piece or become a regularly featured contributor, please e-mail nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.
Whether by car, bus or subway, getting around in New York City is about to become a little more expensive.
The MTA Board approved the agency’s 2013 budget this morning, which included a set of mass transit, bridge and toll hikes across the metropolitan region.
Citing the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, rising fuel prices, and rising tolls on bridges, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Carlo Scissura blasted the proposed MTA fare hikes slated for 2013 earlier this week, saying it disproportionately hurts residents of Southern Brooklyn.
In a press release issued on November 7, Scissura lays out the various increases in MTA fares that he feels are both unfair and untimely, especially considering the cost and strain on families in business owners dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Last month, the MTA proposed a series of fare increases that would devastate residents and small businesses, particularly those in Southern and Central Brooklyn where transit options are scarce. A fare and toll hike in 2013 – a very likely scenario – would be the fourth such increase in five years. For riders who use pay-per-ride MetroCards, the proposed increases could mean more than $200 a year in additional costs. For those who use a monthly MetroCard, their total costs could rise $252 a year. Those who live in Southern Brooklyn and ride express buses to Manhattan each day would have to pay the biggest price. Currently, the base express bus fare is $5.50 and a 7-day unlimited-ride Express Bus Plus MetroCard valid on express buses, subways and city buses is $50.
Scissura also points out that reliance on the MTA is becomming more critical for residents, especially considering the rising cost of gas, and the increases motorists will be expected to pay on bridge tolls.
It’s not like driving is any cheaper. Gas prices continue to rise and the MTA proposes to raise tolls on its crossings. Those who use the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, for example, would see the toll jump from $6.50 to $7.50 (it would go from $4.80 to $5.30 for E-ZPass users.) To cross the Verrazano Bridge, the cash round-trip toll would go from $13 to $15 (E-ZPass users would see it rise from $9.60 to $10.60.)
Lastly, Scissura warns that the toll hikes will effect local businesses as well, as shipped goods brought in on trucks will have to charge more to cover the toll increases. Scisurra notes that businesses will likely have to raise prices on all shipped goods.
While Scissura has come out hard against the MTA’s plans for raising fares, he also made a note of praising MTA Chief Joe Lhota, and all the MTA’s workers for providing a safe and speedy restoration to the city’s mass transit system. Still, Scisurra’s main argument is that commuting isn’t getting any cheaper, hammering the point that, “[it] would be devastating to residents of Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Carnarsie, Marine Park, Mill Basin, and Sheepshead Bay, to name a few, because these areas are so underserved by public transportation. These are also some of the neighborhoods hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy. Simply put, they can’t afford any additional costs as they work to rebuild their businesses and their community.”
THE COMMUTE: For the third consecutive year, the MTA released the results of its satisfaction surveys for each mode of travel / agency, using a 1 through 10 rating system, on September 24th. An earlier format, using letter grades A through F for buses in 2009 and subways in 2006 and 2007, was abandoned because a C- response for many questions was not to the Authority’s liking. Those surveys used larger samples and some responses were broken down by line for comparison.
Using a 1 through 10 scale provides results that appear to be more favorable, since a 50 percent satisfaction level is considered a passing grade, which would be failing under a letter grade system. In the end it really doesn’t matter since the survey results are mostly meaningless, as I will explain later.
A summary of results appears in the MTA general press release and states categories, which show subway satisfaction increases and that bus satisfaction remained stable. It directs you to attached press releases by specific agency for more details. However, the only one available on the website is for Metro-North (MNR). Ned provided me with the New York City Transit press release, which makes no mention of a decrease in the perception of subway personal security and is not as glowing as the MNR press release.
The press release only states for buses that satisfaction levels are stable and that 13 percent of subway riders switched from local bus to subway: 10 percent in the past five years and seven percent in the past year. Half said they switched because bus service was too slow. The survey does not state how many switched due to service cutbacks or if that was a choice. Off-peak riders were 11 percent more satisfied than peak riders.
THE COMMUTE: Most likely $2.50.
But the real question is: What will happen to the bonuses and unlimited passes? Those discounts have been decreasing with each fare increase and the MTA is now proposing to eliminate the modest seven percent bonus when paying for at least $10 in rides. Also, last time the MTA tried to cap the unlimited passes but, instead, chose to steeply increase their cost, making them less useful for some.
Several months ago, MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota postponed the next fare from January to March 2013 because the MTA’s finances were in better shape than previously thought. So it came quite as a surprise when he announced on September 12 that eliminating the bonuses or discounts should be considered because the MTA only receives $1.63 for each $2.25 trip made.
THE COMMUTE: So far we discussed the railroads and elevated lines that preceded and later became part of the subway system, the original three subway divisions – IRT, BMT and IND, the last two being merged with the opening of the Chrystie Street connection in 1967 – the Dual Contracts, the decline of the elevated system as a separate transportation mode, the rise, decline and renaissance of the subways, and, finally, a little about subway comfort and subway nomenclature and how florescent lighting brightened the system.
In this final part we ask some crucial questions relating to the future of the subway system, mention subjects we did not discuss, and provide sources for additional information.
THE COMMUTE: In Part 4 of my “A Brief History Of The Subway System” series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), we discussed the decline of the subways and its renaissance. Today we discuss the merger of the BMT and IND, the history of subway nomenclature and the dawn of florescent lighting.
THE COMMUTE: In Part 1, we discussed the rail and elevated lines which preceded the first subway. In Part 2, we started discussing the Dual Contracts. Yesterday, we discussed decline of the elevated system and the rise of the subway system. Today, we continue discussing the subways’ decline and its renaissance.
The Decline of the Subways
What if the automobile had not become so popular and highways were not built to accommodate them? Surely rapid transit would have continued to flourish. Instead, you can count on your fingers the number of new subway stations constructed and opened since the end of World War II. When you consider all the Els that were demolished and not replaced, there are less rapid transit miles in service today than there were right before World War II.