After postponing a scheduled fare hike in January that would have taken effect this spring, the MTA has delayed the hike once again. The fares will not be raised for the Metro-North Railroad, Long Island Rail Road or New York City transit system.
The MTA regularly raises fares every two years, subject to public board hearings and external approvals. The latest proposed increase would have raised fares by 4%.
Although it will miss out on that potential revenue, the MTA said that it expects to be financially stable until at least mid-2024, partially due to received and incoming federal funding.
The MTA received $4 billion in Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act funding from February, and has been approved for another $6.5 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funding.
While fares will not increase for now, the MTA reported that it expects to receive more money than it had previously projected from ridership, with more people returning to public transit options.
“The farebox revenue that we’ve been seeing year-to-date have been trending positively, higher,” said Robert Foran, chief financial officer for the MTA, in a board meeting on July 21. “We’re increasing our projections of revenue by $3.7 billion through 2024.”
Foran noted that toll revenues were also positive, and are projected to increase revenue by almost $800 million by 2024.
Revised state and local taxes and subsidies will contribute to increasing revenue, in the amount of $1.4 billion through 2024.
Service reductions and wage freezes had been assumed to continue into the future, but will now be less drastic. The transit authority will now plan for the midpoint of expected ridership, rather than offering service for the worst-case scenario number of riders. That will reduce savings from $1.255 billion to $426 million for service reductions, and from $946 million to $536 million for wages, through 2024.
The MTA also expects FEMA reimbursement of $140 million to come in next year.
Foran noted that the MTA’s current plan, as presented at the board meeting, will still leave a projected $605 million in deficit by 2025.