1975: N.Y. Fares Raised in Crisis by Paul Matus

     With the advent of Metropolitan Transportation Authority stewardship of the NYCTA, things seemed brighter. The "self-sustaining" principle, subverted in a dozen large and small ways over the years, went out the window. The new awareness of environment, energy, and the hope of greater Federal financial involvement, helped create a better atmosphere for finally holding the fare. Other cities stabilized their own fares, or even lowered them.
     When Abraham Beame campaigned for and won the mayoralty in the fall of 1973, he made the usual pledge to "hold the fare." But by the summer of 1975, New York was a city in crisis; no matter how you analyze its problems, their causes, whose responsibility the solutions, if any, might be—in simple terms, the City was broke. The banks, followed by municipal bond investors would no longer honor the City's credit—at any interest rate. City debt was falling due with no money to cover it. New York was told that "things" had to be done to show investors that the City was "fiscally responsible." "Something "—something showy—had to be sacrificed: Easier said than done in a city which is a herd of sacred cows.
     Interestingly, transit went to the block first—before the superagencies, before the welfare bureaucracy, before the still-untouched free tuition system or the free municipal highway bridges. And not only city transit-the MTA took the opportunity to raise commuter railroad fares by 23% to 27% at the same time, despite the fact that these fares were supposed to have been guaranteed at least through the end of the year, and despite the fact that the funding of these railroads has nothing to do with the City or its immediate crisis.
     So now the new fares are a fact of life. But, as may have been expected, the "reason" for their institution was never justified. The showy "sacrifice" had little impact, except on the system's users, and New York's crisis is, if anything, further from solution than ever.

Mild Disorders Greet Fare Increase
Massive demonstrations threatened for the first working day of the new fare (Sept. 2) materialized in only a few locations, led by self-styled civic action groups who encouraged passengers to enter through the exit gates without paying. In a few cases, demonstrators chained the exit gates open. Transit police, who were alerted for trouble, broke up the demonstrations, and New Yorkers settled down to paying the new fare with their usual stoicism.
     The Transit Authority has begun chaining shut all but one exit gate during periods when few passengers exit at many stations to discourage attempted ride stealing. The one gate remaining open is not clearly marked, and some passengers have had to try a few before finding the right one, a potential safety hazard in the event that a station might have to be evacuated. The outside of the swingtype exit gates are receiving decals which warn riders to "Avoid Arrest, Pay Your Fare."

Four Fares in Four Days
Collectors of transit trivia now have a good question to stump future generations, courtesy of New York's MTA: When did New York charge four different subway fares in as many consecutive days?
     The answer, of course, is the long weekend starting Saturday, August 30, into the morning of Tuesday, September 2, 1975.
     The MTA's weekend half-fare program and its decision to raise fares on Labor Day, September 1, produced the financial curiosity.
     On Saturday nights, Sundays, and designated holidays, transit riders get a round trip for a one-way fare, so the effective one way fares for the weekend were:

Aug 30


Aug 31


Sept 1


Sept 2


which were respectively, the old full fare, half the old fare, half the new fare, and the new full fare.

Continued on page 4








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