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Spitzer Calls on MTA to Retain $2 Base Fare

Governor Eliot Spitzer has "directed" the MTA to keep the base fare for subway and bus rides at $2. City Room reports, however, that Spitzer held out the possibility for increases in unlimited ride card rates at a press conference held this morning.

Eliot_Spitzer.jpgMr. Spitzer said it was possible to keep the base fare at $2 through2009 — and avoid an increase to $2.25, as the authority proposed forearly next year — because the authority had suddenly identified anadditional $220 million in unforeseen revenue. The $220 millionincludes, Mr. Spitzer said, $60 million from increased ridership, $60million from higher-than-anticipated real estate tax revenues, $60million in savings and $40 million in lower-than-expected debt servicecosts.

“We have come to the conclusion that the entirety of that $220 millionshould be used to mitigate any need for a fare increase,” Mr. Spitzersaid in a morning news conference at his Midtown office. But he quicklymade it clear that he was referring only to the base fare.

In reality, only a small fraction of riders pay the full $2 fare.Most commuters buy the 7-day or 30-day unlimited-ride MetroCards, andmany tourists use the one-day FunPass. The chief executive of theauthority, Elliot G. Sander, said that its financial staff needed to doa new set of calculations to determine how the cost of unlimited-ridescards — along with commuter rail fares and bridge and tunnel tolls —would change under the plan.

But Mr. Spitzer said he expected that any increases on those faresand tolls would be “significantly reduced” from what the authority hadoriginally envisioned.

So, as City Room commenters have pointed out, while one-shot fares -- largely paid by out-of-towners -- should remain the same for the time being, regular transit customers could still see an increase, albeit a "significantly reduced" one.

And again, it appears that neither Spitzer nor MTA chief Lee Sander took the opportunity to cite congestion pricing as a boon to the city's transit system.

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