fare-increases Timeline

Decades

1900s

October 27, 1904 - Fare starts at 5 cents

  • "And would the uniform five-cent fare, stipulated by the Rapid Transit Acts of 1891 and 1894, be enough to cover these contingencies?"
  • Source: Wallace B. Katz, "The New York Rapid Transit Decision of 1900," Historic American Engineering Record, pp2-144, 1979. link)
  • Tags: fare-increases mta

1940s

July 1, 1948 - Fare increases from 5 cents to 10 cents

  • $37.5mil increase in fare revenue during last 6 months of 1948 [2]
    • But 12% drop in ridership (25.5mil less)
  • Average fare paid was 9.53 cents
    • Less than the actual fare of 10 cents because a combined subway and surface line fare was 12 cents
    • Rather than 10 cents plus 7 cents
  • Other interesting items:
    • Board of Transportation added 1272 staff, 940 which "were permanent under civil service"
    • 14 deoderizing and germ-killing lamps were installed in IRT stations at Times Square and Grand Central
  • Historically, transit was not required to be self-supporting because a fare increase would benefit private owners of "traction securities" [3]
    • No longer relevant since city now owned system
    • "Some of the cars in use are nearly forty years old"
    • City was providing $30mil annual subsidy to keep 5-cent fare using real estate taxes
    • Committee of Fifteen contained business, real estate, and industrial representatives
      • They proposed fare of 7.5 cents (2 for 15) to produce $45mil
        • Would cover $30mil current operational deficit
        • Allow $8mil for maintenance
        • And $7mil to replace old rolling stock
        • Allow for 6% cut in tax rate
        • And increase city's borrowing power, as the transit system would be operationally self-supporting ("making the transit debt self-liquidating"), which would allow for new subway construction
  • In first 28 days of 10 cent fare (a 100% increase), rapid transit revenues only rose 69.77% [4]
    • Partly due to the 12 cent transit fares with transfer sold above
    • But also the institution of 16 free transfers between divisions
  • Surface lines (bus and street car) fare increased from 5 to 7 cents, but only saw 18.96% rise in revenue [4]
    • All surface fare zones eliminated in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens
    • 2-cent transfer charge for Brooklyn surface lines eliminated
    • On 12 cent fare with transfer to rapid transit, surface lines only collecting share of 5 cents
      • seems like an internal NYCTA policy
  • Source: "Report for the three and one-half years ending June 30, 1949.," The City of New York Board of Transportation, 82, 1949. link
  • Source: Paul Crowell, "City Gains $37,520,822 in 6 Months Under New Fares, but Fewer Ride," The New York Times, February 17, 1949. link
  • Source: "THE FIVE-CENT FARE," The New York Times, January 13, 1942. link
  • Source: "TRANSIT REVENUES UP 56.77% IN JULY," The New York Times, August 14, 1948. link
  • Tags: fare-increases mta reports

1950s

July 25, 1953 - Fare increases from 10 cents to 15 cents

  • Legislature prohibits NYCTA running an operational deficit
  • Board at the time appears to be 5 members (pre-MTA)
  • For years, 5-cent fare had produced operating surplus
    • Operatuing surplus of $28mil in 1941
    • Operating deficits of $17mil and $31mil in 1947 and 1948, respectively
  • O'Dwyer ended the 5-cent fare in 1948 because it was effectively damaging schools and hospitals
  • The July 25th effective date for 15-cent fare is a week ahead of legal deadline
  • Ridership decline of 11% expected
    • Ridership had been falling 2-3% annually, independent of fare increases
  • Recent changes to hurt transit finances
    • Five-day work-week
    • Longer vacations
    • More paid holidays
    • Increased private automobile use
    • 40-hour work week
  • Transit agency payroll tripled in a decade
  • Deferred maintenance backlog estimated to be $75mil
  • General Hugh J. Casey was authority chairman
  • Source: "THE 15-CENT FARE," The New York Times, July 14, 1953. link
  • Tags: fare-increases mta

1960s

July 5, 1966 - Fare increases from 15 cents to 20 cents

  • Fifth Avenue Coach Lines, a private bus company, wanted Wagner administration to increase fare to 20 cents in 1961 [2]
    • seems to imply NYCTA-specified fare applied to more than NYCTA
    • 15-cent fare possible because taxpayer subsidizes all NYCTA capital costs
      • 1961 debt service was $92mil
    • City-owned NYCTA did not pay taxes, Fifth Avenue coaches paid more than $4mil annually in taxes
  • Source: "REACTIONS MIXED TO 20-CENT FARE," The New York Times, July 6, 1966. link
  • Source: "A 20-Cent Fare?," The New York Times, May 5, 1961. link
  • Tags: fare-increases mta

1970s

January 4, 1970 - Fare increases from 20 cents to 30 cents

  • Old tokens could be redeemed for their 20 cent value, or used as 20 cents on buses
  • 26 million new tokens were ordered
  • Besides station booths, "900 additional outlets, including banks, shops, newstands and other private businesses that have been selling tokens in the past" would sell new ones
  • Special fare from 42nd and 8th to Aqueduct raised from 75 cents to $1
    • I wonder how this was enforced
  • Half fares for those over 65 remained in effect
  • Old tokens would be put in storage for future need
  • 370 Jay St was authority's revenue department, where you could redeem old tokens over $3
  • Source: "New Tokens Go on Sale in Subways," The New York Times, January 3, 1970. link
  • Tags: fare-increases mta

January 2, 1972 - Fare increases from 30 cents to 35 cents

  • Increase could rise to 45 cents due to new "trasit contract"
    • Depedendent on size of tax package to be considered in Albany
  • MTA board had 11 members
  • Could reuse old tokens or create new ones
  • Fare increase required approval from Federal Price Commission
  • Source: "Transit Fare Situation," The New York Times, January 2, 1972. link
  • Tags: fare-increases mta

September 2, 1975 - Fare increases from 35 cents to 50 cents

  • Interesting era for transit funding, with city in fiscal trouble and federal dollars for transit beginning: "In this city, so close to insolvency, little more can be expected in direct subsidy out of existing tax funds. But there is need for quick action on a new regional tax to underwrite mass transit, of the kind now under study by a state legislative committee. There is also need for more substantial financial support from Washington, now that the initial breakthrough has been made on Federal subsidy for both operating and capital costs."
  • MTA ran a defecit, "even operating with more than a half-billion dollars in Federal, state and municipal subsidy"
  • Article was a call for improved labor costs and work practices
  • Mentions an experiment train that would have lower energy usage
    • not sure which model this would be
  • Source: "Costlier Token," The New York Times, September 2, 1975. link
  • Tags: fare-increases federal-assistance mta

1980s

June 28, 1980 - Fare increases from 50 cents to 60 cents

  • Carey refused to rule out another increase
  • MNR referred to as "Conrail's commuter lines north of the city"
  • Sidney Schwartz, New York state's special fiscal monitor for the city, warned that fares may have to rise to 75 cents in 1981 unless "the financially troubled Transit Authority gets more aid and improves its management."
  • "Long Lines Expected" on Monday morning - MetroCard would eliminate this aspect of fare increases
    • Expected the morning rush to continue through 10 A.M., rather than the usual 9 A.M.
  • Ravitch, in April 1980, expected rise would need to be 75 cents [3]
  • Fiscal experts said 50-cent fare could be held with new tax on gross receipts by oil companies (yielding $150mil annually) and a surcharge on the gas tax (yielding $20mil annually) [4]
    • MTA budget showed $398mil deficit for fiscal year April 1, 1980 to March 31, 1981
    • Package expected to be supported by suburban voters because of minimal impact on them, including no commuter rail fare increases
    • 10-cent fare increase expected to provide $100mil increase in revenues
      • wonder what this is like today
    • Also necessary to hold 50-cent fare:
      • 25-cent toll increase to give $30mil to Transit Authority (today NYCT) and $30mil to commuter railroads
      • $56mil increase in subsidy from the city, from current $304.6mil
      • Additional $40mil "found" state budget through accounting differences
    • Strike increased 1979 deficit by $18.1mil and 1980 deficit by $92.7mil
      • $39.6mil gained penalties against strikers for violating state's Taylor Law
      • $26mil in lost fare revenues during the strike
      • $109.1mil lost in additional wages over 2 years
      • $19mil in additonal benefits payments
    • Productivity gains from new agreement with TWU estimated $15mil savings due to "addition of 20 minutes of productive work time"
      • assuming this means less overtime pay
  • Source: "Old and New Commuter Fares in New York Area," The New York Times, June 30, 1980. link
  • Source: "Transit Officials Brace for Rush on Tokens," The New York Times, June 30, 1980. link
  • Source: "Ravitch Predicts 75 Transit Fare If Legislature Doesn't Act By July," The New York Times, April 21, 1980. link
  • Source: David A. Andelman, "$170 Million in New Taxes Called the Key to 50 Fare," The New York Times, April 26, 1980. link
  • Tags: carey fare-increases mta ravitch strike-1980

July 3, 1981 - Fare increases from 60 cents to 75 cents

  • Approved by the MTA on July 2nd, took effect on July 3rd
  • Continued to use 60 cent token
  • A two-step increase was approved: fare would increase again to $1 in two weeks(!) if no additional state aid was provided
  • Without second increase or addition state aid, NYC Transit Authority would still face annual defecit of $240mil
  • Source: Judith Cummings, "City's Fare Rises to 75 cents and Rails Increase by 25%," The New York Times, July 3, 1981. link
  • Tags: fare-increases mta ravitch

January 2, 1984 - Fare increases from 75 cents to 90 cents

  • Kiley defends increases to make up operating deficits
  • 1984 budget is $3.7bil
  • New fares and tolls expected to generate $270mil
  • Elderly and handicapped returned to half fare 24 hours a day
    • Had been half fare only outside of 7am and 9am
  • City Council President Carol Bellamy had several criticisms
    • Questioned whether $38mil reserve fund for track work was necessary
    • Thought some operating budget items should actually be capital budget items
    • Thought budget was too conservative in "failing to count on receiving certain Federal financing"
  • Board endorsed Koch's proposal to have MTA set up administrative board to prosecute fare evadors, rather than sending them to court, as was currently done
  • Source: Suzanne Daley, "M.T.A. RAISES FARES AND TOLLS BY 20% ACROSS THE BOARD," The New York Times, December 17, 1983. link
  • Tags: fare-increases federal-assistance kiley mta

January 1, 1986 - Fare increases from 90 cents to $1

  • Legislature saved 90-cent fare at end of 1984 by extending a corporate tax surcharge that helps subsidize mass transit in the NYC metro
  • Increase came as Transit Authority faced potential $225mil operating defecit for 1986
    • When did they stop calling themselves the Transit Authority?
  • Koch wanted to keep 90-cent fare for another year through a state increase of tax on real estate transactions greater than $1mil in the city
  • Cuomo said keeping 90-cent fare was not in his priorities, and wanted the legislature to focus on medical malpractice insurance
    • Koch responded, "I mean, you have to be able to do more than chew gum."
  • Source: "THE REGION; THE LAST DAYS OF THE 90-CENT FARE," The New York Times, December 8, 1985. link
  • Tags: cuomo-mario fare-increases koch mta

1990s

January 1, 1990 - Fare increases from $1 to $1.15

  • A 1987 agreement with the unions, Governor, and Legislature "provided for the $1.15 fare" [1]
    • Occurred while approving 1987 $8.5bil capital plan
    • Written primarily by Felix Rohatyn
  • Increase of 15% was to close $200mil budget defecit
  • There was a political retreat from a $1.25 fare
    • Some say due to public outcry, others say it was a political gimmick
  • Kiley said in July 1989 that more than a $1.15 fare may be necessary
    • Ridership had not increased, resulting in $15mil less revenue than expected
    • Corporate-tax revenues were down $15mil
    • Federal aid was $25mil less than expected
  • "Technically, the M.T.A. can approve fare increases without the agreement of lawmakers. The Legislature, however, controls the authority's huge capital plans, giving it strong influence." [2]
  • Source: "Turnstile Politics: Preparing for the $1.15 Token," The New York Times, December 3, 1989. link
  • Source: "Kiley Says Fares Could Increase Beyond $1.15 Planned for 1990," The New York Times, June 1, 1989. link
  • Source: David E. Pitt, "A $1.15 Token Now Supported By Transit Staff," The New York Times, December 2, 1989. link
  • Source: Eric Schmitt, "Transit Lines Brace for Test Of $1.15 Fare," The New York Times, January 2, 1990. link
  • Tags: fare-increases federal-assistance kiley mta rohatyn

January 1, 1992 - Fare raised from $1.15 to $1.25

  • Took effect at midnight, handwritten signs announced day before
    • Passengers only allowed to buy 4 tokens at old fare to prevent hoarding
    • Created new physical token to prevent use of slugs (does this mean fakes?)
  • Peter E. Stangl was MTA chairman at the time
  • MTA required by state to produce a balanced budget
    • The board voted 12-to-2 to approve this budget even though it was technically not balanced
  • Faced $263mil budget defecit, fare increase lowered this to $157mil
    • To fully close the gap, the increase would have needed to be to $1.40
    • Not sure how the $157mil ended up being found, need more sources
    • It was discussed to transfer $90mil from relatively healthy LIRR and MNR, which was contentious because of:
      • it would represent a suburban->urban transfer (which was opposed by Republication legislators)
      • and because of transfer of capital funds to operating funds
        • Senate Transportation Committee chairman Norman Levy claimed this, but MTA officials denied this
        • Levy argued this transfer would be similar to 1960s and 70s, when MTA several deferred maintenance on its infrastructure
  • Subway and bus farebox recovery was 61% in 1991, commuter railroads was less than 50%
  • Operating deficit was caused by a sharp downturn in the local economy
  • Source: "Token price rises 10 cents to $1.25 in New York City," The New York Times, January 1, 1992. link
  • Source: Sam Howe Verhovek, "G.O.P. Senator Opposes Using Rail Funds to Limit Subway Fare," The New York Times, December 5, 1991. link
  • Tags: fare-increases mta stangl

November 12, 1995 - Fare increases from $1.25 to $1.50

  • Board voted to increase fare to $1.50 on October 19, 1995, a 20% increase
  • To take effect on November 12
    • One week delay cost the MTA $5.3mil
    • New token introduced to prevent hoarding, last before MetroCard
  • 20% increases had been avoided since 1984 by Govenor or Mayor eventually providing more funds
  • E. Virgil Conway was MTA chair at the time
  • New York Urban League and Straphanger's Campaign said they would sue MTA in federal court saying the fare increase would "violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act because it would affect the poor, blacks and Hispanic people most heavily"
    • did this happen?
  • Canceled fare increase on express buses from $4 to $5, saying they wouldn't be able to compete with private buses
    • Express buses are biggest money losers in the system
  • Source: "THE $1.50 SUBWAY RIDE: THE OVERVIEW;M.T.A. VOTE RAISES FARE ON SUBWAYS AND BUSES TO $1.50," The New York Times, October 20, 1995. link
  • Tags: conway fare-increases mta

2000s

May 4, 2003 - Fare increases from $1.50 to $2

  • 30-day pass raised to $70, 7-day pass to $21, 1-day pass to $7
  • Source: mta
  • Tags: fare-increases mta

June 28, 2009 - Fare increases from $2 to $2.25

  • MTA considered raising base fare to $3, but "state approved a bailout last month boosting mass transit subsidies"
  • Payroll mobility tax on 12-county MTA region was created, vehicle registration and parking fees were increased
  • Hike was coupled with service cuts
  • Unlimited ride MetroCard increases
    • 1-day: $7.50 to $8.25
    • 7-day: $25 to $27
    • 14-day: $47 to $51.50
    • 30-day: $81 to $89
  • Pay-per-ride bonus remains at 8%
  • In March 2009, MTA board previously approved increase from $2 to $2.50 [2]
    • Before Ravitch Commission report was adopted in the legislature, which created Payroll Mobility Tax
    • Report also suggested tolls on East River and Harlem River bridges
    • MTA executive director Elliot G. Sander referred to capital construction binge from 2000 to 2004 as being put "on a credit card"
  • Source: "Farewell $2, hi $2.25," New York Daily News, June 28, 2009. link
  • Source: "M.T.A. Increases Fares and Cuts Services," The New York Times, March 25, 2009. link
  • Source: "Approved Fares for NYC Transit, MTA Bus, Long Island Bus and the Staten Island Railway," Metropolitan Transportation Authority, December 30, 2010. link
  • Tags: fare-increases mta sanders

2010s

December 30, 2010 - Fare remains at $2.50, but week and month pass rise

  • Base fare remains at $2.25 [1]
    • Though single ride increases to $2.50
      • is this the first time they have diverged?
    • 30-day unlimited increases from $89 to $104
    • 7-day unlimited increases from $27 to $29
    • Time-based passes will remain unlimited, after board rejected a ride-capping proposal
    • A third of riders use 30-day passes
    • Fare increase expected to increase revenues by 7.5%
      • Earlier 2010 service cuts were due to budget deficit caused by lower tax revenue and cut in state funding
    • 30-day (month) pass cost $63 a month when introduced in 1998
      • Has increased 65% in 12 years, far greater than inflation
    • Bonus drops to 7%
  • Source: Michael M. Grynbaum, "M.T.A. Approves Transit Fare Increases," The New York Times, October 7, 2010. link
  • Tags: fare-increases mta walder

March 3, 2013 - Fare increases from $2.25 to $2.50

  • Bonus decreased from 7% to 5%
  • Board member Allen Cappelli noted the difference in conversation since 2010, "We're not talking about reducing services, I think that's good news for New Yorkers."
  • Held public hearings throughout fall 2010 to give riders chance to discuss four fare package proposals
    • Riders wanted to keep the bonus and did not want to see big increase in 30-day pass price
    • 2010 increase on 30-day cards was $89 to $104, a 17% increase
  • Lhota announced his resignation to run for mayor after December 18th board meeting
  • Fare and toll increases expected to raise $450mil annually
  • Board members wished for greater transit subsidies rather than biannual fare increases
  • Source: "Increase in Base Subway Fare and 30-Day Pass Is Approved," The New York Times, December 19, 2012. link
  • Source: "M.T.A. Weighs Who Will Pay When It Raises Transit Fares," The New York Times, October 12, 2012. link
  • Source: mta
  • Tags: fare-increases lhota mta

March 22, 2015 - Fare increases from $2.50 to $2.75

  • Increases scheduled to occur every two years as part of the "authority's long-term revenue plans"
  • Using borrowing to close capital gap could increase pressure to raise fares faster than scheduled
    • This implies to me that debt service increases aren't scheduled, why not?
  • Bonus for pay-per-ride MetroCards increased from 5% to 11%
  • Board chose base fare increase against keeping base fare constant and eliminating the bonus
    • Bonus kept because advocates serves as important discount for riders who cannot afford weekly or monthly passes
    • Fare capping would also work
  • Prendergast said increase needed to "balance budget agains the rising costs of providing services"
  • Increase expected to generate $210mil in 2015
  • Plan to unveil new fare payment system in 2020 and remove MetroCards by end of 2022
  • Improved financial outlook in 2013 hinted at smaller increases for 2015 and 2017 [2]
    • Ridership and real estate revenues both up
    • "The regularly scheduled increases are part of a rescue plan approved by the State Legislature in 2009."
    • This plan reduced expected revenues by over $900mil
      • To be balanced by 3 years of "net zero" labor cost increases
  • Source: "M.T.A. Is Raising Fares and Tolls; One Subway or Bus Ride Will Cost $2.75," The New York Times, January 22, 2015. link
  • Source: Matt Flegenheimer, "M.T.A. Sees Smaller Fare Increases in ’15 and ’17," The New York Times, November 13, 2013. link
  • Tags: fare-increases foran mta prendergast

March 19, 2017 - Fare remains at $2.75, but week and month pass rise

  • Base fare remains $2.75, bonus lowered from 11% to 5%
  • Weekly pass increases from $31 to $32
  • Monthly pass increases from $116.50 to $121
  • Source: Emma G. Fitzsimmons, "M.T.A. Votes to Raise Fares and Tolls: What You Need to Know," The New York Times, January 25, 2017. link
  • Tags: fare-increases mta

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