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MTA board member suggests off-peak bus discounts to woo back riders

MTA bus

MTA bus Credit: Lauren Lancaster

An MTA board member is pushing some outside-the-box ideas to reverse the trend of dwindling bus ridership.

Charles Moerdler suggested during a transit committee hearing Monday that the MTA should use smaller buses where demand is lower and give commuters a break if they use the bus during off-peak hours.

"We've got to try to think of the idea of providing, maybe, a discounted fare for off-peak hours so as to encourage people back to using the buses," said Moerdler, who was appointed to the board in 2010.

The cash-strapped transit agency provided 31.6 million fewer bus rides in 2011 - a 4.5% decrease from the previous year. About half of those trips are now being taken on the subway, statistics show.

NYC Transit President Tom Prendergast acknowledged the diminishing bus ridership was a problem, but didn't comment on Moerdler's suggestion.

"There will be a sunny day again," Prendergast said. "There will be more money some day in the future," he added, for the agency to consider restoring some of the service it reduced in 2010.

In an email, MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said, "Reducing off-peak fares is not something that we are considering at this time."

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