It's official: for the fourth time in seven years, the MTA is raising overall fares and tolls, this time by 2% each year for the next two years. The question now is whether the base fare of $2.50 will increase by 25 cents, or whether the base fare will remain the same and the bonus will disappear.

Bonus pay-per-ride MetroCards are used on 43% of all trips, according to the MTA. Their price increases 4.1% under Proposal 1, and 5% under Proposal 2. Non-bonus MetroCards are used in only 6% of trips. Single Rides are used less than 1% of the time (suckers). The People's Bonus Must Be Preserved.

Here's the breakdown.

111714chart1.jpg

The MTA's board will vote on the proposals in January, after hearing public testimony next month. No matter what, the 30-day MetroCards, which are used in 29% of all trips, will cost an extra $4.50. Riding your bike is free (though Citi Bike will soon experience some substantial fare hikes).

The new fares will begin in March. LIRR and Metro-North increases vary, and you can see them on the MTA's website.

Gene Russianoff at the Straphangers Campaign calls the fare increases "modest," and they certainly would be worse if the MTA hadn't been able to cut costs by $1.1 billion every year ($1.5 billion by 2017).

Fares only account for 52% of the MTA's $13 billion operating budget, thanks to the obscene amount of debt the agency has to service each year and Governor Cuomo's propensity to steal tens of millions of dollars from millions of working class New Yorkers.

"New York’s subway and bus riders have suffered four fare increases in seven years. So we share the riding public's anger at what feels like a constant cycle of rising costs," Russianoff says in a statement.

"But what’s really important for the future to metropolitan transit is winning a fully-funded, $32 billion five-year rebuilding program, which is being considered in Albany right now. That means our politicians have to find the money to buy us new subway cars and buses, rehabilitated station, safe track and computerized signals. Otherwise, its back to the big ugly. New Yorkers cannot afford that."

If you'd like to give the MTA's boardmembers a piece of your mind, here are the dates and times for the public hearings.

Monday, December 1, 2014:
·         Manhattan - Baruch College, Baruch Performing Arts Center, Mason Hall, 17 Lexington Ave. at 23rd Street, New York, NY. Registration period is open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Hearing begins at 5 p.m.
·         Bronx - Hostos Community College, 450 Grand Concourse at 149th Street, Bronx, NY. Registration period is open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Hearing begins at 5 p.m.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014:
·         Westchester - New York State Power Authority, Jaguar Room, 123 Main St., White Plains, NY. Registration period is open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Hearing begins at 5 p.m.

Wednesday, December 3, 3014:
·         Long Island - Hilton Long Island/Huntington, Salon C & D, 598 Broad Hollow Road, Melville, NY. Registration period is open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Hearing begins at 5 p.m.
·         Queens - The Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center at York College, Main Stage Theater, 94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd, Jamaica, NY. Registration period is open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Hearing begins at 6 p.m.

Monday, December 8, 2014:
·         West of Hudson - Palisades Center, Adler & Besso Community Rooms, 4th Floor, 1000 Palisades Center Drive, West Nyack, NY. Registration period is open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Hearing begins at 5 p.m.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014:
·         Staten Island - College of Staten Island, Center for the Arts, Springer Concert Hall, 2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, NY. Registration period is open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Hearing begins at 6 p.m.

Thursday, December 11, 2014:
·         Brooklyn - Walt Whitman Theater at Brooklyn College, 2900 Campus Road (near the junction of Nostrand Avenue and Avenue H), Brooklyn, NY. Registration period is open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Hearing begins at 6 p.m.