The MTA has the worst luck. Of course their planned fare hike would hit directly after a massive snow storm nearly brought their entire transportation network to a standstill. But snow or no, the beat goes on and as of today the agency's third fare hike in as many years kicks in. Yay!

One plus for lower-income straphangers, at least: the base fare hasn't changed, remaining at $2.25 a ride (apparently unlimited cards attract a higher income bracket). What has changed? The cost of a single-ride ticket is up a quarter to $2.25, the bonus you get when you buy per-ride has gone down from 15% for every $8 spent to 7% for every $10, and the cost of unlimited 30-day and 7-day cards has bounced from $89 and $27 to $104 and $29. Meanwhile, the 14-day and 1-day unlimited cards have been discontinued.

All of this to try and fix the MTA's beleaguered budget, right? And even this might not be good enough! The MTA is currently projecting an $8 million surplus in its $11.3 billion budget... leaving next to no wiggle room if the increase doesn't bring in its expected bump or if state revenues continue to fall.

Which is why, when asked if they would postpone the hike in light of the blizzard, MTA boss Jay Walder said, "No, I think the fare hike is something that has been planned for six months. We've gone through a process of consideration, of public hearings. It has to go forward at this point."

And don't think the cost of riding the rails (and buses when they aren't stuck) is going to be steady for 2011. A $1 MetroCard surcharge is set to kick in at some point between ball drops in Times Square.