Why the MTA Should Increase Fares
By ELIZABETH YU and VICTOR ZHENG
Can you remember the last time your train or bus was on time? Don’t worry, we can’t either.
According to the MTA, the New York City subway has 472 stations and 27 subway lines, making it the largest system in the world. The New York Times stated that the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s service has increased over the last four months, but riders say they haven’t noticed a difference.
“Has it?” a rider on the Q train asked. “Still feels like they’re always late.”
Trains usually arrive within five minutes of the expected arrival time, according to the MTA, but there are instances where some trains don’t show up at all, even though the newly implemented electronic displays in many stations say they’re “arriving now.”
“I feel fooled when the displays say they’re going to be here in one minute, but you look at the platform and you can clearly see that there’s no train for like, the next five minutes,” said Claire McErlaine ’20.
Many riders aren’t satisfied with the service they’re getting, so the question remains: Should the MTA raise fairs to pay for improved service?
The New York Daily News reports that since 2009, the MTA has increased the fare every other year by $0.25 three different times, giving us a grand total of the current fare at $2.75. It doesn’t stop there. The newspaper also mentions that the fare is projected to climb another quarter sometime in 2019, or the price of unlimited Metrocards will be raised from $32 to $33 on the seven-day card and from $121 to $127 on the 30-day card. Currently, the fares’ fates are locked behind the doors of the MTA’s 17-member board.
A lot of people use the subway system on a weekday basis — 5.58 million to be exact, according to the MTA. With this enormous amount of riders, it’s no surprise that renovations and repairs are necessary. Funding for these renovations won’t appear out of thin air; it has to come from the riders themselves. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Transportation “declined the MTA’s request for federal funds for the renovation because the MTA’s refusal to install elevators violated the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act].” The DOJ just ruled in Bronx Independent Living Services et. al. v. MTA that, under the ADA, “whenever it renovates a subway station throughout its system so as to affect the station’s usability, the MTA is obligated to install an elevator, regardless of the cost, unless it is technically infeasible.” Sometimes that cost makes the elevator requirement practically impossible.
As high school students, we don’t really have a means to personal income unless we surrender the little spare time that we do have and get a job. However, many Hornets don’t think that the service we are currently getting is worth the price.
“There’s always lots of homeless people on the train,” said Abbos Ergashev ’20. “I don’t blame them, but the MTA can at least do something about it. It also smells like urine all the time.”
“Europe’s subway system is way better than ours,” said Jacquelyn Tang ’20. “They’re way more advanced. We have turnstiles. Meanwhile, they have automatic doors.”
These are all reasons why the MTA should increase the fare.
The MTA’s annual revenue comes to around $8.9 billion each year, according to the 2019 budget on their website.
However, staff expenses add up to $4.7 billion a year, and they also pay $669 million in staff overtime, $2.8 billion for healthcare and pensions, and $2.2 billion interest on debt each year, so if you think you’ve got it tough paying three measly bucks for a ride around the city, think again.
“If the price goes up, the MTA would have more money to clean the trains and make them better,” said Imani Oni ’19.
The MTA has also upped their train game. While the electronic displays aren’t perfect, now you at least have an idea of when your train should be coming. They also implemented slightly different train designs, with poles that split into two and then rejoin, making an oval, so you don’t have to accidentally touch someone else’s hand. They’ve even beautified the walls on the trains, inside and out. In certain stations that have been recently renovated, such as the 72nd Street Q train station, the walls are covered with colorful mosaics, giving your eyes an alternative to a bland cement wall or your phone.
“I’m okay with the increase in price,” said Sharrieff Turner, a senior at John Jay College. “It’s not really a issue to pay, even if you do have a spend $30 a week to get to class. It’s for education. The future investment is worth it.”
It’s almost as if high schoolers feel entitled to a free ride because they’re accustomed to not having to pay for their Metrocards. Wake up and smell the urine! This is New York City -- your city -- and if you want better service, you better be willing to start paying more.