It’s time to prepare for new fare hikes coming to New York City. For those of use who take the subway, buses, ferries, or even drive, we need to prepare ourselves to pay a bit more in the upcoming weeks. Due to budget gaps with the MTA, the subway will soon cost $2.90 per fare. The MTA has not increased prices in roughly eight years and their rationale in the new price hike is to deal with a budget gap of almost $3 billion by 2025.
I’m of two minds about the fare hikes. On the one hand, public transportation is a modern marvel. Where else can you get from the Bronx to Brooklyn in an hour for under $3? I can travel all over the city for mere dollars and depending on the time of day. The subway is often faster than sitting in a taxi, too. I often tell tourists to take a bus so they can see the city above ground. The bus lines that run on the east side can literally drop you off along Museum Mile with ease and convenience. Sometimes when I need to clear my mind I take the Staten Island ferry and pass by the Statue of Liberty.
Before COVID had us on lock down, I always bought a monthly pass so I could move freely throughout the city without worrying about how many times per day I used public transport. I use public transport less these days, but will occasionally buy a monthly pass for the convenience of it all. However, I understand many New Yorkers do not have that financial luxury and ultimately end up spending more because they pay for each ride and do not get the benefit of a monthly discount, largely because they cannot afford the large upfront cost of a monthly pass.
I often think of people who have families and must pay for several people to ride the subway. Because of the new fare hikes, many people will actually feel these fare hikes over time. It may seem like a few cents to some, but so many New Yorkers are literally counting pennies each day to make ends meet.
We are told the fare hikes are for infrastructure enhancements, not operating expenses. However, the price of the subway is increasing at a time when many feel the quality of service is decreasing. I don’t know what the solution in Albany should be, but as we raise fares (we know the subway will be $3 before we know it), we must remember families who need every penny that comes in. Hopefully organizations like Riders Alliance will continue to advocate for working class New Yorkers to help keep fares fair for all New Yorkers.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an Associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC and host of The Blackest Questions podcast at TheGrio.