Thursday, December 13, 2012
As expected, the head of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority is recommending the agency raise the base fare for subways and buses by 25 cents, and increase the cost of a 30-day MetroCard from $104 to $112.
Joe Lhota outlined his recommendation in a memo sent to MTA board members Thursday. The board is expected to approve the fare hike at its meeting next week. It would go into effect in March 2013.
Lhota says in his memo that the increase in fares and tolls will raise an additional $450 million annually for the agency.
To learn more, read the memo below, or download a pdf of it here.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
The price of taking a cab will be going up in the fall.
New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission voted Thursday to approve a fare hike that would increase the cost of a ride by 17 percent.
The TLC estimates that the average fare of $10.44 would rise to $12.21 after the increase is expected to go into effect in September. The plan increases the mileage and waiting charges, but not the base fare of $2.50.
The flat fee between Manhattan and Kennedy Airport would jump from $45 to $52 and the surcharge to/or from Newark Liberty International Airport would also rise from $15 to $17.50.
Commissioner David Yassky said even though New Yorkers will be paying more, they also realize it’s the right time. “Most passengers that I talked to understand that after six years it’s only reasonable to increase the taxi fare,” Yassky commented.
Six commissioners, including Yassky, voted to approve the hike, two voted no, and one abstained.
Cabbies attending the meeting cheered as they learned the measure they fought hard for was passed.
They were also were pleased by several other aspects of the proposal, including replacing the 5 percent-per-swipe credit card fees with a flat $10.00 fee per shift charge and establishing a driver heath fund.
There had been much angling behind the scenes by large taxi fleet owners who said they also deserved an increase in leasing rates because their costs were also rising. Borough Commissioners from Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn appeared to agree with them when they spoke and voted against the plan. Staten Island Commissioner Elias Arout described giving drivers a raise and not the garages “lopsided.”
Michael Woloz, a spokesman with the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, no stranger to litigating with the city, said they’re reviewing their options. “Time and time again when the TLC has passed unlawful rules we have fought them and the courts have affirmed our position,” Woloz said.
But Bhairavi Desai, head of the drivers group Taxi Workers Alliance, said not having to share the increase with rich medallion owners was a triumph. “We just defeated the 1 percent. We don’t have their money, their lobbyists, or their P.R. people,” a tearful Desai said. ”Today is evidence that working people can still win in this society.”
The commission said going forward, it would consider lease and fare increases every odd numbered year so that neither side of the industry had to wait so long to for an increase again.
Fares last went up in 2006 when waiting time charges increased. The last time overall cab fees rose was 8 years ago, when a 26 percent increase passed.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
The increase, if approved later this week, would increase charge per mile but the $2.50 base rate would stay the same. The flat fare to and from JFK Airport would also jump from $45 to $52.
Speaking to a room mostly of fare-hike backers during a hearing Monday, TLC Commissioner David Yassky said he supports the measure, which would be the first time in six years that fares have increased.
"The price of a loaf of bread has gone up. A gallon of milk has gone up. Certainly, the price of a gallon of gasoline has gone way up, and I think that taxi passengers understand they have to pay for some of that,” Yassky said.
But approval of the plan isn’t a done deal. Just two of the commission’s nine TLC commissioners appeared at the hearing, and medallion owners have been angling behind the scenes.
At least one borough Commissioner, Frank Carone of Brooklyn, has said he’d vote against the proposal as it stands now because the increase doesn't meet the guidelines for rules that govern fare increases.
But the head of the Taxi Worker Alliance, Bhairavi Desai, said the wait has been too long.
“The idea that hard-working people are earning 25 percent less today than what they earned in 2006 is absolutely unacceptable,” Desai said. “After 12 long hours behind a wheel, collectively serving over a half a million people, there’s no question taxi drivers deserve to make a livable income.”
Fleet owners complained the fare proposal leaves them out. The TLC isn't considering increasing the amount garages can charge drivers for renting the taxi and medallion—otherwise known as lease caps.
Michael Woloz, spokesman for the fleet group the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, urged the commission to consider their rising costs too. He said the price of maintaining a garage is expensive.
“(To) have tow truck operators, gas stations and mechanics that work 24 hours a day to make sure New Yorkers’ taxi service is that best in the world—that costs money” Woloz said.
He said a 19 percent increase to both fares and lease caps would be more equitable.
But, according to TLC figures, fleets can make about $48,650 per medallion, meaning a 200-cab fleet could make more than $9 million a year, which the TLC doesn’t consider a hardship.
The TLC is scheduled to vote on the plan this Thursday.
Monday, June 25, 2012
Fare evasion costs New York City $100 million a year. And it's worse on buses than subways.
Putting an exact number on the city's problem is difficult, officials said at Monday's New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority committee meeting. Thomas Prendergast, the president of New York City Transit, said "I believe the number is between $50 and $75 million (annually)."
But later that morning, an MTA official said internal estimates put that number closer to $100 million a year -- with fare evasion on buses alone accounting for over $50 million a year.
MTA head Joe Lhota said he met last month with NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly. The result: police are stepping up enforcement and spot checks on buses -- and the effort involves both uniform and undercover officers.
"This new effort has just started," said Lhota, "and I think we'll see the fruit of this relatively soon."
So far this year (as of 6/24), police have made 1,228 "theft of service" arrests on city buses. That's up 72% compared to the same period last year.
Thomas Prendergast said he found some of the fare evasion numbers surprising. "We have the higher end of the rates in Staten Island," he said, "where there's a lot of school service and a lot of the fare evasion may be students."
So far this year there have been 60 arrests for fare evasion in that borough.
Prendergast said he wanted to produce a thorough report on the problem, "rather than just making anecdotal comments."
One board member asked Prendergast why fare evasion occurs more often on buses. "At the front end of my career," said Prendergast, "I drove a bus for 30 days and qualified as a bus operator in Chicago. And let me tell you, it's one of the most difficult jobs."
He then painted a stark picture of a situation drivers could find themselves in. "If you want to work midnight to eight, by yourself on a bus, and challenge somebody for a fare -- we require people to challenge once for a fare -- versus sitting in a booth and calling someone if someone doesn't pay a fare -- it's a very, very complicated issue."
And not a financially insignificant one. "Every dollar we can save from fare evasion is a dollar we can spend for other things," he said.
To give that $100 million figure some context: in 2010, the MTA cut 38 bus lines -- and reduced service on 76 more -- to save $93 million a year.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
(Ilya Marritz, New York, NY -- WNYC) A week after being forced to accept a smaller revenue package than he wanted, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey launched a full-throated broadside against politicians who say the government must reduce all spending.
In an address at the New York Building Conference billed as a talk on the future of the World Trade Center site, Christopher Ward quickly shifted gears from the reconstruction of Ground Zero to the political process.
"For all his vaunted optimism after the Carter years, Reagan also launched a darker strain in American politics, that somehow government itself is the problem, and that you can always do more with less," Ward said, going on to mention Newt Gingrich's Contract with America and the Tea Party as Reagan's ideological heirs.
Ward said American infrastructure is crumbling, and likely to deteriorate further because of the rise of conservative political movements, beginning with the election of 1980.
"Today, we are truly seeing the consequences of that slow deterioration of what we have always assumed would be there — that social contract," Ward said.
Ward explicitly connected conservative politics to his failure to get higher tolls on bridges and tunnels like the George Washington Bridge.
"In an instant, we became subsumed in the political environment I have been describing – one with little capacity to support the investment our region’s economic backbone so desperately needs."
Responding to widespread outcry from the public, governors Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo persuaded the Port Authority to accept a smaller toll and fare hike. Hudson River crossings will cost as much as $9.50 for most travelers, instead of $12, for example.
Ward expressed understanding for the governors' position.
"We live in the reality of practical decision making and decisions were made for what can in fact be a level of tolls that work within this region," Ward said. "And the governors showed their leadership."
While the executive director of the Port Authority is appointed by the governor of New York, the position is not considered political.
Ward said the lower revenues from tolls will mean delays in improvements to New York's LaGuardia Airport and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
In recent weeks, there have been rumors Ward would not stay with Port Authority much longer. After the speech, Ward was asked whether he had any plans to run for office, and he responded categorically: "Never."
Ward took over rebuilding at the site in 2008, after the project had become bogged down. He said an overemphasis on symbolism and scale — what he called "monumentalism" — held up rebuilding in the years immediately after the attacks.
The World Trade Center site will be closed to most of the public on September 11, 2011. But the city is making tickets to visit available by reservation, starting the next day.
More TN coverage of the Port Authority:
Port Authority of NY & NJ Approves Rail, Toll Hikes (8/19/11 - link)
NY-NJ Port Authority’s Proposed Toll and Fare Hikes: Behind the Numbers (8/17/11 - link)
Opinion Split At Public Hearing On Steep NY-NJ Port Authority Toll And Fare Hikes (8/16/11 - link)
Neither Governor Cuomo Nor Governor Christie Rules Out Port Authority Toll Hikes (8/9/11 - link)
Anatomy of a Toll Hike Proposal (8/9/11 - link)