Could New York City Buses Become Free for All?
Funding MTA as a vital utility could lessen the reliance on fares and boost mass transit, say some of the authority’s board members.
As other cities experiment with fare-free transit, some MTA board members are calling on elected officials to come up with new funding sources that would allow the financially strapped agency to let New Yorkers ride buses for free.
The push comes as the Council of the District of Columbia voted last week to do away with Metrobus fares in Washington starting in July, and as Boston last year tapped into $8 million in federal pandemic relief money to eliminate fares on three Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority bus routes through at least 2024.
While MTA officials have warned that higher-than-expected fare hikes may be needed by 2025 if ridership does not return to pre-pandemic levels, others say the time is now for mass transit to be funded similarly to the police, fire and sanitation services that are usually deemed “essential.”