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Citizens Union

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M.T.A. Chairman Joseph Lhaota said yesterday that the base fare ride for subways and buses would likely rise when then agency votes on a fare hike plan in December. The move affects the least amount of riders, since only 15 percent buy MetroCards under $10, which don't receive bonuses. But those are also often the poorest riders. Lhota also said he'd lobby for more money from the state, which contributes less to mass transit than others with large cities.

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The M.T.A. revealed its four fare hike proposals today. Two would increase the base fare to $2.50 from $2.25 while raising the cost of unlimited MetroCards. The others wouldn't alter the base fare but would increase unlimiteds substantially. Chairman Joseph Lhota said he prefers a hybrid of the proposals. He also ruled out eliminating the bonus for pay-per-ride cards, which makes two of the proposals unlikely to pass. Costs for commuter trains, as well as bridge and tunnel crossings, will also rise. The MTA is looking for another $450 million a year from users. Fares and tolls are expected to rise again in 2015. They vote on the proposals in December.

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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.