Spitzer spikes fare hike
By PETE DONOHUE
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Tuesday, November 20th 2007
Reacting to public pressure - including the Daily News' Halt the Hike campaign - Gov. Spitzer announced Tuesday there will be no increase on the $2 bus and subway fare for at least two years.
"We will save the $2 fare," Spitzer said at a press conference this morning, where he was joined by MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger and MTA CEO Elliot Sander.
Spitzer said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority updated its budget forecast and found revenues were $220 million higher than expected - and will use it to save the base fare through 2009.
"Based on the current economic climate that has so many New Yorkers feeling squeezed, it seemed only proper that this amount be returned to the riders," Spitzer said.
The announcement comes several weeks after The News launched its campaign to halt a planned increase for bus and subway fares and tolls on MTA bridges and tunnels.
Scores of lawmakers - including powerful Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver - and even some MTA board members have joined in asking for a delay.
"We truly have been listening," Sander said.
The MTA claimed it needed to generate an additional $580 million in higher fares and tolls in 2008 and 2009 , a 6.5% increase, because of large deficits in 2009 and beyond. Officials for months have said the MTA now has a large surplus and can balance next year’s budget without increases.
Spitzer said using the additional revenues means the MTA has to raise only $360 million. He said the agency would do that through "significantly smaller" hikes to certain types of discount cards, while keeping the base fare at $2.
The MTA had floated two proposals to raise fares. Both would have raised the base fare $2.25, but one called for adding a new pay-per-ride MetroCard that would lower fares for riders who travel during off-peak periods.