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MTA: Planned Fare Hikes To Be Smaller Than Initially Announced

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Planned Metropolitan Transportation Authority toll and fare increases will not be going up as much as previously announced, the agency said Wednesday.

After three significant fare hikes, MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast said it's time to give commuters a break.

"We believe this is a plan that's implementable and doable," he said.

MTA: Planned Fare Hikes To Be Smaller Than Initially Announced

The agency said significant cost-cutting and zero wage increases for its unionized workers will enable them to reduce anticipated fare hikes in fare hikes in 2015 and 2017 from 7.5 percent to 4 percent.

"If they planned it this way, they're very smart. If they're in the black, that's good. If they're responding to reasonable pressures on both sides, that's good too," a straphanger told WCBS 880's Marla Diamond.

The change was announced as the MTA released its final proposed budget for 2014 as well as its 4-year financial plan.

"We try to keep costs down in order to minimize the financial burden on our customers, and as this financial plan shows, we are succeeding in that effort," Prendergast said in a statement. "Our customers want value, which is quality and quantity of service, and that service has to be reliable and safe. Through this financial plan, that's what we work to provide."

The four-year plan includes $18 million for service investments and $11 million in additional customer enhancements. Service improvements include:

  • Extending the M from Myrtle Avenue to Delancey Street -Essex Street on Weekends;
  • Extending Bx24 to Hutchinson Metro Center from Westchester Square;
  • Adding Q77 service on Sundays;
  • Restoring Q31 on Weekends;
  • Restructuring Staten Island express bus service to add a new "super express" service via the Lincoln Tunnel to Midtown;
  • Restoring half-hourly LIRR weekend service on the Port Washington Branch and to Ronkonkoma;
  • Expanding LIRR service to Greenport, which began last month.

The plan also increases the annual "pay-as-you-go" funding for the MTA Capital Program by an additional $40 million a year. That's on top of the $80 million increase included in the July plan, for a total of $370 million a year beginning in 2015, the MTA said.

The additional funds will serve as a down payment of sorts for the 2015-2019 Capital Program.

The MTA noted the 4-year plan could be derailed by a downturn in the economy, a potential new labor contract or the state failing to pay the MTA all the funds it collects.

The MTA board will vote next month on the 2014 budget proposal and 4-year financial plan.

The NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, a commuter advocacy group, said in a statement Wednesday that the MTA "made the right call today on behalf of the New York subway, bus and commuter riding public" by lowering the proposed fare hikes.

"For many New Yorkers, the planned transit fares were just too damn high. For their families, the transit fare has come to represent one of the ways it is so challenging to afford to live here," the statement read in part. "In the last several months, the MTA heard this from elected officials like Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and from transit groups like the Straphangers Campaign. The reduction was made possible by additional savings initiatives and higher than anticipated rider and tax revenues."

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