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Straphangers share plans for dealing with fare hike


vdf Credit: RJ Mickelson

From cutting back on cups of coffee to searching for more work, straphangers are bracing for the MTA’s latest fare hike on Dec. 30.

The MTA has said plummeting tax revenue and shrinking state aid has forced the increases, despite cutting $380 million from its budget.

It's the third increase in the last three years and will most notably raise the unlimited weekly MetroCard from $27 to $29 and the unlimited 30-day card from $89 to $104.

Nearly half of straphangers use weekly or monthly cards, according to MTA data for October.

“What they have to do is find a better way to deal with the situation than keep holding people hostage,” said Ernest Pierre, 64.

Name: Ernest Pierre, lives in Washington Heights
Age: 64
Job: Laid off more than a year ago

Pierre lost his job as a housing specialist at a not-for-profit in 2009 and has been trying to find a steady job. He collects less than $200 a week in unemployment and uses a weekly MetroCard to travel to job placement agencies almost every day.

A $2 a week increase for his pass will make it even more difficult for him to also pay for medication and meals, he said.

“I think I’m going to have to get me a second-hand bike or walk or carpool,” he said. “(The fare) keeps going up and up.”

But with a bad leg, he worries he will be forced to take the subway and bus.

“Right now it’s really a stress,” he said.


Name: Dax Valdes, lives in Woodside
Age 32
Job: Theater actor/choreographer

Valdes uses a 30-day MetroCard to get around to acting and choreographing gigs and said the new $104 card will take a chunk out of his recreation budget.

“I will find other means of socializing in terms of being at home or going to a friends house,” he said.

He has unpredictable paychecks depending on what jobs he lands — up to $800 on a good week — and already struggles to pay his bills.

He remembers when the monthly pass increased from $81 to $89, but this increase is especially shocking, he said.

“Now we’re going into the triple digits,” he said.


Name: Kianna Francis, lives in the Bronx
Age: 23
Job: Speech pathology student at Lehman College/private school/home health aide

Francis uses a 30-day unlimited MetroCard to work two jobs and go to school. When her job as a home health aide ends next month, she said she will have to scramble to find a new one.

“The paycheck from the second job will go to the MetroCard,” she said.
With textbooks and college tuition to also pay for besides her pass, Francis said she already skips the movies and eating out.

The fare hike is especially tough on college students, she said.
“I will definitely will not be able to get coffee or anything that isn’t necessary,” she said. “ I will be penny-pinching for everything.”

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