Metro-North fare hike looms; riders may seek alternatives

The Metro-North train station in Yonkers. (Nov. 5, The Metro-North train station in Yonkers. (Nov. 5, 2012) Photo Credit: Faye Murman

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Metro-North fares could jump by as much as 17 percent for some routes west of the Hudson under an MTA plan that comes up for a board vote next week.

A monthly pass for a Port Jervis to Penn Station ride would increase $34, from $418 to $452 -- one of the largest bumps in an MTA plan that charges some commuters less, others more depending on the route they travel.

A morning commute from Pearl River to Penn Station on the Pascack Valley Line would rise from $9.50 to $10.25 a ride. And a monthly pass in Zone 4 on the Harlem and Hudson lines -- one of the commuter rail's most heavily-traveled sections -- would go from $229 to $249. Zone 4 includes stops in White Plains, Hastings-on-Hudson and Dobbs Ferry.

Dozens of routes will face increases, ranging from 3.5 percent to 16.7, according to MTA figures released Friday ahead of Wednesday's MTA board vote.

The MTA board will consider fare hikes for subway, bus and rail lines as well as bridges and tunnels as the agency seeks to close a $450 million gap in next year's $12.6 billion budget.

It is asking each of its agencies to raise revenue by an average of 7.5 percent with tolls and fares that would go into effect in March. Metro-North alone needs to make up $26 million in revenue.

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MTA chairman and CEO Joseph Lhota said the hikes are needed to cover increases in debt service as well as energy, pension and healthcare costs.

"As we have discussed over the past several months, most recently at the MTA November board meeting, these fare and toll changes are an essential part of the MTA's financial plan," Lhota said in a letter to board members Thursday.

The board is expected to approve the hikes, which stemmed from a 2009 bailout plan worked out with Albany lawmakers.

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Under the deal, the MTA agreed to seek rate hikes of 7.5 percent instead of more dramatic increases of as much as 30 percent. If approved, this will be the fourth fare boost in five years.

Under the proposal, the base cost of a Metro-Card to ride the city's subways would increase to $2.50 from $2.25. The price of an unlimited monthly Metro-Card will jump to $112 from $104.

The E-ZPass toll on the Henry Hudson Bridge would rise to $2.44 from $2.20. And the E-ZPass toll for most of the city's bridges and tunnels, including the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge and the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel -- the would go from $4.80 to $5.33.

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