The long-awaited MTA fare hike is now official. MTA Chairman Jay Walder announced Thursday that the price of a monthly MetroCard will go from $89 to $104, weekly cards will rise from $27 to $29 and base fares for single rides will increase by 25 cents.
All but two members of the board approved the 17 percent fare hike. One of the dissenting members who objected to the fare hikes, Norman Seabrook, says, "It's the working poor that get smacked around every time we turn around."
"These are exceptionally difficult times, financially, in the state. We all know that. Difficult choices are going to be made going forward," Walder says, defending the increase. He says the decison was pre-ordained back in May 2009, when the state legislature crafted a rescue plan for the MTA that authorized the board to increase fares by about 8 percent.
"Our public transit system relies on support from our federal, state and local governments," Walder says. "And in this regard, we have been let down. We have seen funds cut from the MTA this year at a time when we had no choice, but to make it up by cutting service and raising fares."
Gene Russianoff, of the Straphangers Campaign is calling for state government to intervene. "These cuts and fare hikes are not only caused by the poor economy, they're caused by Albany, City Hall and Washington not coming to the rescue. That's why our folks are here with signs today that say 'Riders to Albany: Help,' " Russianoff says.
The fare hikes go into effect on January 1, 2011.
Updated at 12:45 p.m.