MTA to hold public hearings on hikes

December 23, 2008 9:12:28 AM PST
People who rely on the MTA for a ride or use MTA bridges and tunnels could be staggered by the price tag they'll face in the new year. The price of everything could be going up.

Commuter train fares could increase by a third, and MetroCards will be no bargain.

Here's the thinking: Present the worst possible scenario, and then whatever the final decision ends up being, you won't be surprised. Starting next month, the MTA wants to hear your thoughts and suggestions as it holds the first of eight public hearings on how to close its eye-popping billion-dollar budget gap.

It started with a vote in the MTA board room, and it's quickly moving to the roads and rails.

The public hearings that start next month are sure to be heated.

Riders are being told that the base fare for a bus or subway ride could go to $3. A weekly MetroCard could jump from $25 to $32. A 14-day unlimited card might set you back $60. And a monthly card may well top out at $105.

The bonus for buying a MetroCard with multiple rides might be done away with.

On the roads, a seven-day express bus MetroCard would be priced at $51. Bridge and tunnel tolls could go to $7. And fares on Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road could skyrocket, growing by up to one-third.

The MTA is also looking at service cuts, all aimed at cutting a projected budget deficit next year of $1.2 billion.

The MTA expects to give customers a more detailed explanation of what it plans next week. So far though, it's one of the bleakest messages ever from the MTA.

The proposed changes to fares and tolls would not happen until summer. And there's still the faint hope that Albany lawmakers will step in with a mass-transit bailout for straphangers.

The numbers were released with the schedule for eight public hearings that will be held throughout the five boroughs, Long Island and Westchester. They will begin on January 14 at the Sixth Avenue Hilton.

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STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Kemberly Richardson

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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