If New Yorkers seem a little grumpier—particularly during the weekday rush hour—there’s a good reason. Yet again, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is putting the financial burden of their poor business decisions on the common folk: by upping subway and bus fares yet again. (Rates were also hiked in March 2008 and June 2009.)
Effective January 1, 2011, instead of paying $89 for the unlimited monthly passes, daily commuters (such as me) will have to shell out $104. One of the MTA's justifications was that 30-day cardholders tend to be “affluent" and could, presumably, handle the increase. However, they define "affluent" as having an annual income of $63,000. This is NYC, people. Don't get me wrong: that's certainly a livable wage; but considering the cost of living here, it's far from affluent.
Oh, and did I mention that the MTA has recently scaled back and eliminated services? So, New Yorkers will pay a lot more to wait a lot longer to ride less convenient, more overcrowded buses and trains. What a great way to start the day.
So what exactly does this mean for travelers? First, say goodbye to both the unlimited one- and 14-day passes. The MTA is phasing them out. (Probably because they were a pretty good deal.) Single rides will jump from $2.25 to $2.50; the unlimited weekly pass, from $27 to $29. If you prefer to fill up your card and pay-per-ride, the cash bonus falls from 15% to 8%. Oh, and if you’re buying a new Metrocard (and most tourists are), you’ll be slapped with a $1 new card fee.
But hey, somebody has to pay for the 11.5% MTA worker pay increase, chairman Jay Walder’s $350,000 annual salary, and the super smart and totally necessary decision to wire subway stations for Wi-Fi and cell service.
Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor and resident tech guru at Travel + Leisure.