In February, the MTA Board is expected to ask for a 5.5 percent subway and bus fare increase. Chairman John Lieber, Mayor Eric Adams, Governor Kathy Hochul, you all must do better for all of us who ride NYC mass transit.
While officials were happy that ridership surpassed 1 billion riders in 2022, that is still 60 percent lower than the 1.698 billion riders that used the system in 2019. New Yorkers need a cleaner and safe subway system before riders will return in numbers approaching the pre-pandemic levels.
None of us should have to live in fear and discomfort as we travel on public transit.
And if the congestion pricing plan--which is already under attack by a bi-partisan group of Congressional lawmakers from upstate NY and out-of-state New Jersey--is to have any credibility, there must to be a clean and safe mass transit alternatives.
For most of my life, I’ve been a transportation geek. If it moves under its own power, be it people or freight, I’m there. From a seat on the Concorde to a third-class coach bathroom in Malaysia, I’m witness to the recent history of transportation. I’ve seen enough transit systems around the world to see what is optimal in mass transit, and what is just downright crummy.
Like most of you, I’m one dependent on the Subways and Buses of our city. It’s usually not pretty.
Don’t get me entirely wrong; The MTA is filled with a large amount of intelligent, well-intentioned staffers across all its divisions. We’ve had subways here since 1904, and they are running everyday. We’ve had surface transit in Manhattan since a 12-passenger stagecoach started running between the Battery and Bleeker Street in 1827, and rapid transit trains since 1878.
Riding them today, though? The odds of having a completely positive experience from A to B? You are probably better off at one of the finer casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, where the odds are that you will come up a winner maybe 3 or 4 percent of the time.
MTA Estimates It Lost $500M to Fare Evasion in ‘22
At last November’s MTA Board Meeting, transit officials warned that the current deficit is approaching $1 Billion, and could triple in three years. The 2022 figure for fare evasion was estimated to be $500 million dollars. People jumping over or under turnstiles is now almost a competitive sport. There are those sauntering in through emergency gates with reckless abandon--and the screeching alarm is no deterant.
Once alighting on the subway train of our choice, we are greeted with an inconvenient melange of bad behavior: vaping, panhandling, strange floor liquids, sales of candy by underage children, loud music, blocked doorways, sleeping homeless people. There are, of course MTA rules of conduct for subways and buses to guarantee a safe and pleasant rise. Enforcement? not so much.
As of the middle of December 2022, 82,000 fare evaders received a summons, according to NYPD figures. Even if every violator paid the $100 fine, that leaves about $492 million left of a billion dollar deficit, which means a fare increase for all of us.
When someone doesn’t pay their fare, we all suffer.
And once you pay to get through the gate, you can expect to be greeted by more problems and an inconvenient melange of bad behavior: vaping, panhandling, strange floor liquids, sales of candy by underage children, loud music, blocked doorways, etc. There are, of course MTA rules of conduct for subways and buses to guarantee a safe and pleasant rise. Enforcement? not so much. There are obviously bigger problems to contend with these days. But ridership is not going to come back and unless people believe that there is a clean and safe subway system to get them where they want to go.