MTA warns of future fare hikes

November 17, 2011 4:35:02 AM PST
He's been on the job less than a week, but the new leader of the MTA, Joe Lhota, says riders need to be prepared for more fare hikes.

Lhota says there will be no increases in 2012 but after that riders may be paying more.

Ask any rider and they'll come up with at least a couple changes they'd like to see the MTA fast track.

"Better service, less crowded trains," said Shirley Evans, a rider.

Wednesday, the MTA's new executive director announced that one of his goals is to improve service quality.

But as Joe Lhota sets out to do that, he's juggling the MTA's financial problems, and they are significant.

In fact during the meeting one board member called the MTA's debt a "ticking time bomb".

"It's a phrase I don't agree with, but everyone is entitled to their thought. I do think that you can operate an organization as large at the MTA with a reasonable amount of debt, I don't think we're proposing an unreasonable amount of debt at this time," Lhota said.

The debt will likely lead to fare hikes and toll increases, not in 2012, but in 2013 and then in 2015.

"Our plan does include, as was presented in 2011 that every other year we're projecting rate increases," Lhota said.

The plan is subject to a vote by the MTA board next month and when it comes to fare hikes riders like Ira Beckman want to have a say as well.

"We should be able to have an opinion about that and share our point of view," said Ira Beckman, a rider.