Back in July, the MTA said that fare hikes would be likely for subways and buses (not to mention the LIRR, Metro-North and bridges and tunnels). Now the agency has announced two proposed solutions: A standard across-the-board increase and, more intriguingly, a two-tier system that would discount fares for rides during off-peak hours. Both plans would call for the base fare to be increased to $2.25, but some Metrocard users would only pay $1.50 per ride if riding during off-peak hours.

2007_09_farenyt.jpgThe NY Times has a graphic (left) that shows the differences between the two plans. (And hello, two-week unlimited Metrocard!) Why is the MTA proposing an off-peak option? As a way to encourage use of the trains during less busy hours, but the Post notes, "The discounts would come at the expense of the half of all riders who utilize unlimited-ride MetroCards, which would be hiked between 6.5 and 8 percent."

It's not clear what hours are considered peak and off-peak, but it's an interesting concept since fares seem to need to be hiked no matter what. The Straphangers Campaign was impressed that the MTA thought "out-of-the-box" with the off-peak idea, said, "Both options are too high. If the state and city kicked in a modest amount of money, the fare hikes would only need to be a dime."

And two fun facts from the Post's article: 1) The MTA's Metrocard discounts, whether for unlimited weekly or monthly cards, or the "free 6th ride if you buy 5" have been so popular that only 15% of riders pay the full $2 fare. 2) The Metrocard vending machines can allow work with increases of 25 cents.

The MTA will vote on the fare hikes in December. The agency says the public will be involved in the various discussions - those meetings will be fun!

Photograph by Triborough on Flickr