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Citizens Union

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This report by the Citizens Budget Commission proposes a new way to fund the M.T.A. called "25-50-25". It recommends that auto user fees cover all drivers' facilities, plus 25 percent of mass transit services. Then mass transit user fees would cover another 50 percent of the operating costs of those services. And state and local tax subsidies would cover the final 25 percent of transit operating costs plus “catch-up” capital investments needed to bring the system to a state of good repair.

The 25-50-25 policy would mean that mass transit riders would pay higher – but still reasonable – fares. The cost of a single ride ticket would increase to at least $2.75 by 2016 but in constant dollars a subway ride would cost at most three cents more than it did in 1996. Motorists would face increased costs for the use of their vehicles, in the range of $167 to $293 more annually, but the charges would be consistent with those in other global metropolises and related to the benefits drivers derive from a well-functioning transportation system.

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A nonpartisan civic organization envisions a future where transit riders, and motorists who use tunnels and bridges, pay more to help finance the city's public transportation system.

The Citizens Budget Commission recommends that the financing of mass transit be divided using a 25-50-25 formula among the major sources of revenue that include fares, tolls, tax subsidies and other fees.

If each category of funder – driver, transit rider and general taxpayer – contributes to the cost of the region’s mass transit system in accordance with these principles, it will get the MTA off the wrong track and chart a better route for the region’s economic future. By 2016 the 25-50-25 policy would provide nearly $2.6 billion in additional annual revenue without new taxes.

The 25-50-25 policy would mean that mass transit riders would pay higher – but still reasonable – fares. The cost of a single ride ticket would increase to at least $2.75 by 2016 but in constant dollars a subway ride would cost at most three cents more than it did in 1996. Motorists would face increased costs for the use of their vehicles, in the range of $167 to $293 more annually, but the charges would be consistent with those in other global metropolises and related to the benefits drivers derive from a well-functioning transportation system.

The complete report, "A Better Way to Pay for the MTA," can be downloaded here.

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