MTA Fare Hike: Brass Plays Chicken With Federal Relief

MTA Fare Hike: Brass Plays Chicken With Federal Relief alternative finance news

There will be no MTA fare hike in 2021, so pandemic-battered New Yorkers can breathe a sigh of relief…for now.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority has also assured New Yorkers that there will not be any “doomsday” cuts to service or employment, as they initially promised to do earlier this year.

But these promises ring hollow when you realize that the brass is gambling on federal relief to not deploy these so-called “nuclear options.” And given the current quagmire with what was previously thought to be a slam-dunk with a new COVID-19 relief bill, this may be the worst gamble in MTA’s history.

MTA Fare Hike Averted…For Now

While the proposed MTA fare hike isn’t happening this year, it will be voted upon in January 2021, when the board is due to meet. The MTA believes that the next four years will bring upon a deficit to the tune of $7 billion, and rather than vote for pay cuts for its executives (because that would be too easy), it’s considering the option of cutting services and raising prices, which is sure to be a hit with already-beleaguered commuters.

“This budget will assume [the acquisition of] $4.5 billion in federal funding for 2021. That’s an assumption. But I want to be clear about what the board is being asked to vote on today and what it’s not being asked to vote on today,” MTA Chairman Pat Foye said to AM New York. “The board will be asked today to consider and vote on adopting the 2021 budget, and the 2021 to 24 financial plan. Today’s vote, however, is not a vote on any fare and toll policy change proposals.”

The only hope to avert the proposed MTA fare hike is a federal bailout. But is it really a wise idea to wait for this proposed funding?

President-Elect Biden Said He Would Deliver

According to The Hartford Courant, the MTA has requested $12 billion in federal funding, which will come in a combination of loans, grants, and development funds. President-Elect Biden is reportedly set to deliver on these funds when he takes office next month. But the MTA fare hike will come regardless of whether these funds arrive or not, and even if it doesn’t come this year or next, it will definitely come by 2024.

If this does, indeed, happen, it seems targeted towards essential workers, whose nature of the job requires that they commute to work. And this, unsurprisingly, is causing a justifiable uproar.

It will be interesting to see if, indeed, the MTA does go through with its proposed fare hike, and what it means for commuters in the near future.

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