Sunday: Rally for Fair Fares With the Riders Alliance

Community Service Society President David Jones (podium) speaking in October alongside Riders Alliance Executive Direction John Raskin (left) and Public Advocate Letitia James. Photo: David Meyer
Community Service Society President David Jones (podium) speaking in October alongside Riders Alliance Executive Direction John Raskin (left) and Public Advocate Letitia James. Photo: David Meyer

Transit fares are going up on Sunday, meaning straphangers will collectively be paying $300 million more each year for service that’s getting more crowded and less reliable.

On fare hike day, the Riders Alliance, the Community Service Society, and the rest of the “Fair Fares” coalition will rally at noon outside Barclays Center to call on Mayor de Blasio to fund half-price MetroCards for the 800,000 New Yorkers who earn below the federal poverty line.

More than two-thirds of the City Council has signed on to the Fair Fares campaign since it launched a year ago. But Mayor de Blasio declined to include the $212 million needed for the program in his preliminary Fiscal Year 2018 budget, arguing that the state should cover the cost since the governor controls the MTA.

Governor Cuomo shouldn’t escape scrutiny: His refusal to pay for system maintenance without borrowing massive sums is causing transit fares to rise faster. But the coalition has targeted de Blasio both because he campaigned on reducing inequality and because they believe it’s within the city’s means.

Sunday’s rally starts at noon. At 1 p.m., advocates will head into the station to talk with riders and collect their thoughts on sticky notes (a spin on the well-known post-election art installation at the Union Square station).

Police conducted 29,000 arrests for fare evasion in 2015, according to the Police Reform Organizing Project. For undocumented immigrants, those arrest can lead to deportation.

CSS President David Jones told City Council members last month that the arrests are like prosecuting people for stealing bread. “This is a kind of insanity going on in this city, particularly because of the great wealth here, that we’re starting to make a priority of people who try to evade a fare as if they are major criminals.”

  • Vooch

    $200 million builds 400 miles of PBL

  • Larry Littlefield

    “His refusal to pay for system maintenance without borrowing massive sums is causing transit fares to rise faster.”

    His generation’s refusal to pay. That generation of “transit advocate” was in favor, back when the benefits rather than the costs were being experienced. It’s universal. The problem with robbing the future is that it tends to become the present. And if you rob the future even more when it becomes the present, the hole gets deeper. That’s the way it is in the U.S., and not just for mass transit in New York and not just in government.

    As for the half-fare, there are different ways to look at this. As I have shown, compared with what low and moderate income people have to pay for transportation elsewhere, the New York City subway remains cheap. These people need quality more than lower costs. And, bicycles are cheaper. A low income family can get a pretty good deal by combining the two. Thus even the poor would be better off if the same amount of money were invested in service or bicycles, particularly given the administrative costs of the proposed program.

    On the other hand, look at all the people who get to pay half fares right now. The elderly, no matter how well off they are. The handicapped, no matter how well off the are. And the rich.

    Let’s say you are the second highest paid earner in a household with high income overall, with a pay level slightly below the cutoff for the payroll tax, at $118,500 in 2016. Something that imagine is quite common in NYC. For those people, the marginal tax rate (federal income and payroll, state income, local income) is over 50 percent. Basically, a break that allows you to exclude the cost of your transit (or parking) from income cuts its cost in half.

  • bolwerk

    It probably isn’t within the city’s means without cuts elsewhere. That’d be fine, but de Blasio doesn’t seem willing to cut a damn thing.

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