Though hearings and votes are still scheduled, it's certain that by January 2011, MTA fares are going to go up. However, the MTA is predicting that this means ridership will go down. Though they predict just a 1% drop, that's 16 million fewer trips than the average 2.3 billion New Yorkers make in a year. So if ridership is down, and fares are up, won't their gross income be the same?

"Experts" say the decline would be steeper, but the recession recovery will send more people back to the workplace, and thus into the MTA's needy arms. MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said, "Because we are cautiously optimistic about the recovery of New York's economy, we expect the fare increase to cause a very small decrease in ridership." Stats also show that, despite fare hikes, ridership grew between 2004 and 2008 because the city's economy was growing. But Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign predicts, "Poor people and people of modest means count their trips more often after a fare hike, and they'll cut out some nonwork trips.

Fare hike proposals include charging $99 for a 30-day MetroCard, which would be capped at 90 rides, or charging $104 for an unlimited 30-day card. The MTA is also considering charging $1 more for buying a new card, which riders must do any time they buy an unlimited card anyway. According to our informal poll, 71% of readers would rather pay the $104 for unlimited rides. For those of you who don't buy unlimited cards, will the fare hikes matter, or will you be putting all that extra cash towards buying a bike?