Transit for All?

2008 November 24
by ASHP Staff

The MTA is planning on raising fares again- much to the despair of its riders. MTA riders already pay a higher portion of the cost of each ride than riders on most transit systems, and under their proposed plan- riders will pay 83% of the cost of one ride. There are some who think the MTA might be going the wrong way about making money.

Each fare increase since the price was raised to a dime (from a nickel) in 1943 has been followed by a decrease in ridership. If riders aren’t taking the MTA, they are using other modes of transportation such as cars. The proposal is to give drivers a real incentive to use transit: make it free. The savings would come in reduced road maintenance, not having to spend money on maintaing metro card machines, turnstiles, enforcement and so forth. 

It seems counterintuitive, but there is a great deal of support for this idea. Though many of the plans also have a “congestion tax” component to help generate additional money for improvements like the mythical Second Avenue Subway or the mysterious 7 train extension.  The miles of track in the subway system and the ridership have declined since reaching their peaks in the 1930s and 1940s- and with the technology in use falling further out of date- perhaps the time is right for a bold and counterintuitive idea? 

Other good sites on MTA History: NYC Subway History, Forgotten NY Subway History

Last 5 posts by ASHP Staff

2008 November 24
Ellen Noonan permalink

If I’m not mistaken (and as there is no copy of Robert Caro’s The Power Broker in the office, I can’t easily look this up), there is an original sin in the relationship between public transit fare hikes and car infrastructure–Robert Moses, the man who ran postwar NYC, pushed through higher transit fares in order to help fund his 1950s and 1960s highway building projects.

2008 November 24

I think that is a good point, that the subway was neglected for so long in favor of road and highway construction. It’s sort of funny how the times have changed, and now we’re looking to tax highway usage to pay for transit; whereas, it ‘s been the other way around at some point.

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