With the MTA's vote whether to raise subway and bus fares coming in less than three weeks, speculation is running high about what will happen. Even though Governor Spitzer said that the base subway and bus fare will remain $2, unlimited Metrocard fares - which 85% of riders use - will rise. The MTA has insisted the fare hikes are necessary, given projected deficits and upcoming capital construction, but many elected officials believe that the decision to raise fares should be postponed until next April, to give State legislators a chance to find more money in the state budget and avoid a fare hike.
While there's debating on stopping a fare hike, the MTA's budget proposal also includes cuts to holiday bus service (supposedly reducing buses to the point of longer waits, but not overcrowding). The NY Times notes that cuts for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day would affect already-reduced holiday service; other days, like Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, currently have regular service. It's strange that the MTA would want to cut service on New Year's Eve and New Year's - days when people are generally out and about - is it because people aren't taking buses?
Another controversial thing being cut: Elevator operators at the northern Manhattan stations, which seems crazy to us. Also being put on the chopping block is the MTA's subway evacuation program. The MTA says that many upgrades, like panic bars on emergency exits, have eliminated the need for actual flesh-and-blood MTA workers to help riders out of subway stations. Hey, aren't many panic bars set off randomly all the time?
Recently, Governor Spitzer claimed keeping the base fare at $2 and raising the unlimited Metrocard fare doesn't benefit tourists more. He said the move would help the poorest New Yorkers who are only able to buy regular pay-per-ride fares. And Mayor Bloomberg, who appointed four of the MTA board members with voting power, could theoretically tell his appointees to vote to delay a fare hike, making some hopeful for mayoral intervention. Bloomberg hasn't indicated whether he supports a fare hike, but he did say he wants to make sure the MTA is being run efficiently.