Student fares on MTA chopping block in budget plan

December 14, 2009 3:33:30 PM PST
Hundreds of thousands of students are one step closer to losing free subway and bus rides in New York City.The MTA making that drastic proposal due to a $400 million budget shortfall.

The agency is also calling for eliminating the W and Z subway lines, cutting 21 bus routes and phasing out student discounts.

That free or discounted subway or bus ride for more than a half a million New York City school children may be going the way of the token, and parents aren't happy about it.

"Why take it from the kids?" parent Antionette Coley said. "You shouldn't take nothing from the children."

The MTA finance committee Monday approved the plan to do away with the free student MetroCards as just one of several cost-cutting measures to address the budget shortfall.

"We will work to refine the plan. I don't want to leave you with the sense that this is not very real," said MTA chairman Jay Walder.

Under the proposal, for a family with two school-age children attending school an average of 180 days a year, the cost of bus or subway fare could jump from free in 2009 to $810 at half fare in 2010. That would double to more than $1,600 annually at full fare in 2011.

"That's a lot of money," Coley said. "$2.25 for one child, $2.25 for another child, $2.25 for another child. And to come back? That's too much money."

And Coley is not alone. High school students are also worried that the price of just getting to and from school could be too high for many of their classmates.

"It's gonna cause a lot of kids to stop going to school, I think. because they might not have money. A lot of families don't have it like that," 12th grader Donna Darlin said.

The full MTA vote is expected Wednesday.