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Testimony to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Proposed Fare Increases

Good afternoon. I’m Kara Gurl, Planning and Advocacy Manager at the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, PCAC.

We’ve seen time and time again that when the decision is between a lower fare or better service, most riders would prefer a moderate fare increase over a service cut. We’re thankful that Governor Hochul and the state legislature lowered the proposed hike this year and avoided service cuts— instead, we’ll see substantial off-peak service improvements on subways coming this summer and faster buses with ABLE expansion.

But the equity impacts of a fare increase can and should be lessened with action from Mayor Adams through doubling eligibility for Fair Fares to 200% of the federal poverty level, cutting the fare in half for over a million more New Yorkers. Fair Fares should also be expanded to the LIRR and Metro-North, so that low income riders living farther from subways and buses can benefit from reduced commuter rail fares.

Fare discounts and deals will also help lessen the blow, while also incentivizing ridership.

We’re thrilled about rolling weekly fare capping with OMNY, and that the weekly unlimited cost will only increase by $1. This is the fare option most used by lower income riders, so we appreciate your efforts to keep it at a more affordable price. Next, we’d love to see a monthly fare capping option.

We’re thankful for the expansion of CityTicket, first proposed by PCAC 20 years ago, which offers reduced LIRR and Metro-North fares within New York City. Making it available to Far Rockaway riders will help improve transit equity and access. We appreciate the inclusion of peak travel and support rolling Atlantic Ticket into it, but the weekly option that allows transfers to and from subways and buses should remain and be added to eTix.

We support capping the monthly ticket fare at $500 for riders living farthest from the city, and capping any increase over 6% at a maximum increase of $0.50 per trip.

We also support standardizing the off-peak discount on the LIRR and Metro-North. This is a step toward a more unified fare system for both railroads, and an overall more integrated transit system.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment and considering our input.