Everywhere you turn in the transit world, people are talking about a looming fare hike. However, as New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said a few days ago, we need to stop and take a look around. It might just turn out that “Congestion Pricing” could provide the extra funds we need to avoid a fare hike.
Granted, I don’t know how much I believe that, but it sure would be nice.
It’s my understanding that a portion of the revenue generated, and the federal funds are supposed to go towards improving the transit system. So the money should not go towards keeping fares down, but instead should go towards improving service.
Maybe a sharp increase in ridership would generate enough revenue to offset the need for another fare hike? Who knows.
In general, I wouldn’t necessarily mind paying a higher fare if it meant better service. That includes better trains, more trains, and less unforeseen delays, etc.
There’s another problem that I don’t think gets enough attention. The MTA receives funds from way too many sources. It must make the finances in that agency a nightmare. The MTA gets money not only from fares, but also property sales tax, regular sales tax, and a handful of other areas.
Just the other day, Mayor Bloomberg announced the slashing of sales taxes on clothing items over $110. Until just recently, shoppers paid about 4% tax to the state, and 4% tax to the city on clothing over $110. Bloomberg has dropped the city’s portion of that tax, basically cutting the total in half.
However, I’ve heard that the MTA gets something like 0.375% of that revenue. I guess the question is whether the MTA’s cut comes out of the city’s half or the state’s. In any event, that’s a prime example of what makes the MTA’s finances so complicated.
There are so many factors that can throw the system’s finances into chaos from year to year. The whole thing needs to be simplified if we ever plan on getting a grip on the future of city transit.