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MTA hikes fares as its chairman resigns

TimesLedger Newspapers

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board approved a fare increase Wednesday but not before MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota announced he is leaving his job to consider a run for mayor.

The board approved a hike in the basic subway and bus fare from $2.25 to $2.50 by a voice vote after a lengthy discussion on the premise that the MTA must find sources of revenue other than raising fares..

Board member Andrew Albert pointed out that the New York City transit system gets the least amount of operating subsidies from city and state of any transit system in the nation.

“I will be exploring a potential candidacy for mayor of New York,” Lhota announced, adding that he would actually leave the MTA on Dec. 31, not Friday, Dec. 21, as reported Tuesday.

He said he would have nothing further to say about running for mayor.

Lhota again thanked the MTA workers whom he said worked day and night to restore the parts of the transit system wrecked by Hurricane Sandy, pointing out that it was still not quite back to normal.

When the fares and tolls become effective on March 1, a 30-day unlimited ride MetroCard will go up from $104 to $112 and a seven-day unlimited ride MetroCard will rise from $29 to $30.

Express bus rides will climb by 50 cents to $6.

Most Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road commuter train fares will go up from between 8.2 percent and 9.3 percent.

Access-a-Ride fares will rise from $2.25 to $2.50.

The E-ZPass toll on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge will go up by a dollar to $10.66 for non-residents of Staten Island.

Lhota, in a memo to the entire Metropolitan Transportation Authority board last week, said the changes included a cut in the pay-per-ride MetroCard bonus from 7 percent to 5 percent, but straphangers would get a bonus if they spent as much as $5, down from $10.

Buying a new MetroCard rather than refilling an old card will cost $1.

“These fare and toll changes are an essential part of the MTA’s financial plan,” Lhota wrote. “They will raise an additional $450 million in annualized revenue.”

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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