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Friday, November 21, 2014

Good News, Roosevelt Island F Train Service To And From Manhattan This Weekend - Bad News, MTA Proposes Fare Increases Starting March 2015

According to the MTA Weekender, there will be Roosevelt Island F train service to and from Manhattan this weekend.

Now for the bad news. The MTA proposes to increase subway and bus fares starting March 2015. According to the MTA:

The MTA offers several ways to pay for rides on subways, buses. and the Staten Island Railway, including Pay-Per-Ride and Unlimited Ride MetroCards, cash on buses, and Single Ride Tickets on subways. Two alternative fare structures are being considered that treat the base fare and bonus structure differently. The single-ride fare must increase in 25-cent increments, which limits the alternatives available and may lead to proposed increases that are lower or higher than 4%. Changes to 7-Day and 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCards are the same in both proposals.
  • In Proposal 1, the base fare increases by 25¢, and the bonus amount is increased from 5% to 11% when putting $5.50 or more on a MetroCard.
  • In Proposal 2, the base fare for cash, Single Ride Tickets, and Pay-Per-Ride MetroCards remains unchanged at $2.50, but the bonus for putting $5 or more on a MetroCard is eliminated.
  • In both proposals, the cost of a 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard increases to $116.50 and the cost of a 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard increases to $31.
  • Senior Citizen/Disabled/Student Reduced Fare/Paratransit Zero Fare discount policies (except as otherwise noted) remain unchanged and will pertain to applicable fares as modified.

Note: The $1 fee for purchasing a new MetroCard would remain unchanged
  • Bonus Pay-Per-Ride MetroCards are used for 43% of New York City Transit trips.  
  • In Proposal 1 the price of these trips increases 4.1%.
    In Proposal 2 the price increases 5.0%.
  • 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCards are used for 29% of trips and would increase 4% under both proposals.
  • 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCards are used for 21% of trips and would increase 3.3% under both proposals.
  • Non-bonus MetroCards and cash on buses are used for 6% of trips. Single Ride Tickets are used less than 1% of trips and tourists appear to be the most likely users. These prices would increase by 25¢ or remain unchanged.
Since the major difference between the two proposals is the treatment of the bonus and base fare, the MTA encourages comments on the importance of the bonus to its customers.

Proposal 1, with an 11% bonus, results in unusual residual values for relatively frequent transactions. Residual fare values are the dollar value amounts remaining on MetroCards that are less than the cost of a fare. For example, the purchase or refill of a round trip will result in 61¢ in residual value and the purchase of a new card using a $10 bill will result in $1.74 of residual value.

Because of the frequency with which Proposal 1 will result in these unusual residual values for relatively common purchases (round-trip and new card Pay-Per-Ride are approximately 1/3 of all purchases, though they only represent approximately 10% of trips), MTA invites comments on this issue. Since pennies cannot be used at MetroCard vending machines or at station booths, customers will need to be educated on how best to capture unusual residual values on their cards. Possible solutions that may be considered by the MTA include:
  • taking steps to educate customers on how to minimize the number of purchases which have these unusual residual amounts and to capture residual value from their cards;
  • lowering the bonus amount to 10%, which would result in a 5% fare increase for Bonus Pay-Per- Ride customers; or
  • increasing the minimum purchase eligible for a bonus to $10.
Proposal 2, which would eliminate the bonus, would minimize the issue of residual fare values.

The choices the MTA makes this year could affect not only the 2015 fare, but also the way in which future fare increases are structured. For example, if the bonus is eliminated with the 2015 fare change, it could be reinstated in 2017.
The Roosevelt Island Tram fare will be the same as the MTA's subway and bus fare. According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Approved Budget For Fiscal Year 2014-15 (Page 5):
... Tram Revenue Sharing Agreement – as noted in “Tram Operations”, the Tram is profitable. However, the Corporation had received full fare ($2.00) up through July 2009, the date of the last MTA fare increase. Since then, the MTA has continued paying the $2.00 fare while retaining the $0.25 increase. In order to maintain the future long-term viability of the Tram, participation in future fare increases would be necessary....