Surprise! MTA eases up on fare hikes
More service also coming to M, L and G routes
In the wake of its new Final Proposed 2014 Budget and Four-Year Financial Plan, the MTA expects that a combination of cost-cutting measures, lower expenses and higher operating revenues will allow the agency to reduce by almost half the previously projected fare and toll increases scheduled for 2015 and 2017.
Fare increases every two years were agreed to in 2009 in a deal between the transit agency and the Governor’s Office.
The budget plan, released on Wednesday, limits the growth of expenses in 2014 to 1.96 percent, in line with the rate of inflation.
Cost-containment measures will allow the MTA to increase savings goals by $200 million per year by 2017 due to further administrative consolidations, more efficiency in workers’ compensation procedures, energy efficiency, and streamlining procedures in procurement and inventory control, according to a statement from the agency.
The transit advocacy group Straphangers Campaign, which is often critical of the MTA, said in a statement:
“MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast made the right call today on behalf of the New York subway, bus and commuter riding public, reducing a proposed fare increase slated for 2015 from 7.5 percent every two years to a 2 percent annual increase.
“For many New Yorkers, the planned transit fares were just too damn high. In the last several months, the MTA heard this from elected officials like Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, and from transit groups like the Straphangers Campaign.
“Can the MTA do even better by its customers? The Straphangers Campaign will be watching.”
Along with the reduced fare increases, the MTA on Wednesday announced several service improvements. One of these involves the M line, which goes through northern Brooklyn. The plan would extend the M’s western terminal from Myrtle Avenue-Broadway to Essex Street on weekends.
Weekend M trains would now run through Williamsburg, as they do on weekdays (except for late-night and early-morning hours).
In addition, Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol (D-North Brooklyn) received a letter from the MTA New York City Transit confirming an increase in L and G train service as a response to changes in subway ridership.
During weekday rush hour from 8 to 9 a.m. and from 7 to 11 p.m., there will be an increase of a total of five round trips on the L train, reducing wait times from more than five minutes to a little more than four and a half minutes.
The frequency of L train service on both Sunday and Saturday’s peak hours – from 9 to 11 p.m. – will be increased by nearly 20 percent, with four more and three more round trips, respectively.
Beginning in June 2014, G train service will also see an increase in service on weekdays from 3 to 9 p.m. These increases will result in a decrease in wait times from the current 10 minutes to eight and a half minutes.
Brooklyn officials have often maintained that explosive residential development in Greenpoint and Williamsburg calls for more service on the G and L.
Other improvements announced as part of the new budget plan include restoring half-hourly Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) weekend service on the Port Washington Branch, instituting a “super-express” bus service from Staten Island to Midtown Manhattan via the Lincoln Tunnel, and expanding LIRR service to Greenport.
“We try to keep costs down in order to minimize the financial burden on our customers, and as this financial plan shows, we are succeeding in that effort,” said Prendergast.
The MTA’s plan provides $18 million in funding for service investments proposed last July, $11.5 million in increased service to meet loading and headway guidelines, and $11 million in additional customer enhancements.
The plan also increases the annual “pay-as-you-go” funding for the MTA Capital Program by an additional $40 million a year on top of the $80 million increase included in the July Plan, for a total of $370 million a year beginning in 2015.
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