For the first time since 2015, base subway fares are going up. The increase is just fifteen cents – from $2.75 to $2.90. MTA’s board approved the hike this week.
For the Roosevelt Island Tram, the cost of a ride goes up too, but the increase will not help RIOC or Roosevelt Island. The MTA absorbs the entire increase.
About the Increase in Subway Fares
“We need this to be responsible,” MTA chairman Janno Lieber said before Wednesday’s vote. “It’s not without its downsides, because anytime you’re asking people to pay a little more, you know that has consequences. But for everybody who depends on this transit system — like I always say, mass transit is like air and water for New Yorkers — we need it.”
Ridership, post pandemic, hovers at around 70% of pre-pandemic levels.
But for Roosevelt Islanders, the statement is ironic because Lieber, Governor Kathy Hochul and the MTA have been far from responsible. Not only has the MTA chained RIOC to a 15-year-old fare sharing rate for the Tram, but it has also refused to meet with RIOC about it for several of those years.
That is, when you cough up $2.75 for a lift across the East River, the MTA shares just $2.00 of it, keeping the rest for itself. This results in a $1 million plus annual windfall for the MTA and steeper losses for RIOC which is already bleeding red ink in supporting the Tram.
Governor Hochul has looked the other way resolutely, while local elected officials plead for help, even though she controls both agencies. A single call could resolve the issue, which tells its own story about Albany’s contempt for Roosevelt Island.
And RIOC’s internal executive incompetence is like a turtle retreating under its shell. In this case, the shell is Blackwell House.
At some point before August 20th, base subway fares will go up to $2.90, a rate far too inadequate for supporting the system. The MTA will again scramble for dedicated funds for survival, taking focus away from operating a reliable transportation network.
Advocates lobby for a completely free system of subways and buses with costs covered in the same way schools and police protection are. It makes sense – in theory – but it would stir the subway and bus system into the mess of city and state governance.
No one should wish that on anyone. Reform for the MTA and state and local governance is a far off dream showing no signs of fracturing the daily reality of living here.