Lower NYC subway, bus fare hike and more frequent service are part of state budget deal that cheers MTA leaders

·3 min read

Service will increase and a planned fare hike will be reduced under the handshake state budget deal between Gov. Hochul and state legislative leaders.

MTA chair Janno Lieber was effusive about the budget deal on Friday, which gives the agency a $300 million lump sum cash infusion, a $500 million share of the licensing fees from downstate casinos and $1.1 billion from a payroll tax on large New York City businesses.

“It’s cloudy, but its a beautiful day in New York,” Lieber told reporters outside the Union Square subway station.

“We’re going to get more service,” he said. “We’re going to get more night service, we’re going to get more weekend service.”

“The MTA’s financial condition is being stabilized,” he added. “The legislature and the governor have protected the riders for four years.”

Lieber said $65 million in the budget will offset some of a fare and toll increase expected to be imposed this summer. The money will likely bring the increase down to roughly 4%, less than the expected 5.5%.

Exactly how the fare and toll increase will be spread across the subways, buses, commuter railroads and toll bridges isn’t clear. But a 4% increase in the NYC Transit base fare means bus and subway riders would pay around $2.85, which is 10 cents more than the current $2.75 fare.

Money is also being set aside to make five of the city’s 326 bus lines free. Lieber said Friday that the MTA would select those lines with an eye toward warding off fare evasion.

“We don’t want it to give people the impression that every bus in New York is free,” he said.

Exactly how much money will be earmarked for increased subway service is still under negotiation, a spokesperson for Gov. Hochul told the Daily News.

As part of the compromises, suburban businesses in the MTA’s service area were spared from an increase in the Payroll Mobility Tax that will cost New York City-based businesses $1.1 billion. Hochul lost her bid to increase the tax for the suburbs as well.

New York City is expected to provide $165 million to help pay for MTA paratransit services. That’s a reduction from Gov. Hochul’s initial proposal to have the city provide $500 million for both paratransit and student MetroCard fares.

Transit advocates greeted the news Friday.

“Albany’s past transit funding deals left riders waiting longer but this unprecedented budget will finally fund more frequent subway service,” said Betsy Plum, executive director of Riders Alliance.

Lisa Daglian of the Permanent Citizen’s Advisory Council to the MTA called the budget “a win for riders and the region,” but took a shot at the city-only tax hike.

“The MTA is the backbone of our entire region’s economy, and it should ultimately be up to the entire region to fund transit in exchange for the access to jobs, education, opportunities, and contributions to local economies that transit provides from Montauk to Wassaic,” she said.

With Denis Slattery