NEW YORK (WABC) -- The base New York City transit fare has not changed in more than seven years. Riding the MTA's buses and subways has cost $2.75 since March 2015.
But the MTA is facing massive deficits and Wednesday the agency's board voted on a balanced budget that calls for fare increases of up to 5.5% on the subways and the buses, the commuter rail lines as well as tolls on the MTA's bridges, and tunnels.
How much and when is still unclear, but MTA chairman Janno Lieber insisted that increases may be unavoidable.
"We need to prepare, nevertheless, for the possibility that there will have to be fair and toll increases at some point. So we're starting the preliminary administrative process now that allows us to advance the option at an appropriate time in the future," Lieber said.
The MTA has struggled to maintain full service despite hybrid work schedules and the fact that a third of weekday riders have yet to return to the transit system.
What's more, the agency is looking to increase some weekend service, while cutting back some rush-hour service. Union members packed the meeting in protest-insisting that service cuts lead to angry riders, putting transit workers at risk.
"They think that we are the one that's causing the delay, so automatically, we're gonna get assaulted," TWU Local #100 President Richard Davis said.
Lieber expressed support for the workers but downplayed the risks.
"We are absolutely opposed to worker assaults and there's no way that we're going to let that be a problem in the system," Lieber said.
The service changes do not require public hearings, but fare and toll increases do. The first hearings could happen in two months with new tolls and fares expected in June.
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