The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is mulling a 5.5 percent fare increase in 2023, even as ridership remains depressed in the face of rising crime, particularly in the subways.
The first fare hike since 2019, it is still one that is higher than the 4 percent increase that was anticipated by the agency earlier this year.
It would bring the cost of a single ride on the bus or subway from its current $2.75 to $290 in 2023, and to $3.03 by 2025.
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli warned Tuesday, however, that the fare would have to be increased by 79 cents, according to The New York Post.
The rate of violent crime per subway ride (murder, rape, felony assault and robbery) has more than doubled since 2019, according to MTA and police statistics analyzed by The New York Times.
Subway crime in 2022 has increased by 41 percent over last year, Fox5NY recently pointed out, adding that many New Yorkers are fearful in the same way they felt in the 1980s, despite the fact that such crimes comprise only two percent of the city’s total.
There were nine homicides in the subways between Jan. 1 and Nov. 1, in addition to 52 assaults on subway workers, and more than 280 incidents in which those workers were threatened and otherwise harassed, according to MTA data.
Fare revenue is expected to reach just 32 percent of the MTA’s operating budget by 2026, compared to 44 percent prior to the pandemic, DiNapoli’s office warned in a new report.
With ridership at just 60 percent of pre-pandemic levels, the MTA is facing a possible $3 billion budget deficit in 2025, chief financial officer Kevin Willens warned Wednesday at the agency’s monthly board meeting.
By mid-2026, ridership isn’t expected to exceed 73 percent of its pre-pandemic levels, according to estimates by consultants McKinsey & Company.
“No one wants to see steep fare hikes or service cuts. However, it is unclear how the MTA will avoid these outcomes unless it lays out additional options,” DiNapoli said.
The MTA is hoping for federal funding to help reduce or avoid the fare increase, chief executive officer Janno Lieber told reporters following the meeting.