Cash-strapped MTA weighs fare and toll increases for 2021

Pick your poison.

Scrapping 30-day MetroCards and varying bridge and tunnel tolls by time of day are some of the price hikes and changes the cash-strapped MTA is considering for next year, the agency revealed Wednesday.

Fares and tolls are scheduled to go up one way or another next year, in line with the agency’s policy since 2009 to enact increases every two years.

Among the options being considered for the subway are base fare increases of 2 or 4 percent, the elimination of 7-day and 30-day passes and a $1 increase in the cost of a new single-ride ticket, MTA finance official Mark Young told agency board members on Wednesday.

For the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North, officials are also considering reducing the number of fare zones.

And for bridge and tunnel tolls, officials have proposed that the prices vary by time of day.

Fare and toll increases are subject to public hearings, and must be approved by the board.

Commissioners expressed skepticism about raising fares at all on Wednesday.

“I’m opposed to any fare increase,” said board member Larry Schwartz, an appointee of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“I don’t think fares for the people that depend on the MTA’s transit system should pay more. It’s the casual rider that I believe should be paying more.”

Suffolk County rep Kevin Law argued the agency should actually be lowering fares to encourage ridership, which has cratered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need to lure riders back. Increasing fares is not a way to lure riders back,” Law said.

“I really seriously believe that if we were to cut fares, at least for ’21, we may generate more revenues by increasing ridership than if we increase fares and continued the depressed ridership.”

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