NYC Subway Fare Increase Imminent

NYC Subway Fare Increase Imminent

The Cost of NYC Subway Rides: A Fare Increase in Context

New York City Subway

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has recently announced an increase in the cost of subway rides in New York City. This news might come as a disappointment for frequent commuters, as the fare hike is the first since 2015. Starting from August 20, the individual subway or bus swipe will increase from $2.75 to $2.90, representing a little over a 5% increase. Furthermore, the weekly unlimited pass will increase from $33 to $34 (3% increase), and the 30-day pass will go from $127 to $132 (4% increase). Students and seniors, who currently enjoy a discounted fare at half the base fare, will see their individual swipe increase from $1.35 to $1.45[^1^].

But let’s put this fare increase into perspective. As a New Yorker, it’s hard to avoid grumbling about these price hikes. However, it’s also important to defend our subway system against any criticism. In this case, the MTA may have a valid point for raising prices.

When discussing the price hike with my family, my dad reminisced about paying less than a dollar for a subway ride when he was a teenager living in Brooklyn. My sister, on the other hand, remembered when the ride cost around $2 during her college years. Intrigued by this conversation, we decided to dive into some statistics and discovered some fascinating insights[^2^].

In the late 1970s, a subway ride cost only $0.50[^2^]. If we use the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ CPI inflation calculator, which adjusts for inflation, we find that $0.50 in January 1979 is equivalent to $2.23 in June 2023 (the most recent available data). From this perspective, the price of a subway ride has increased more rapidly than inflation for someone like my dad[^2^].

However, the story changes for younger and newer New Yorkers. When I first moved to New York in 2010, the subway ride cost $2.25, which is equivalent to $3.17 in June 2023[^2^]. Therefore, for me, the price of a subway ride has actually become significantly lower when factoring in inflation. The last fare increase in March 2015 raised the price to $2.50, which, in June 2023 terms, would be $3.23[^2^].

Alternatively, we can also consider the pizza principle. As of last year, the price of a slice of pizza was higher than a subway ride in New York[^2^]. So, in a way, we have already upset the equilibrium between these two New York City icons.

While I don’t doubt that this fare increase will strain budgets for some individuals, it still seems like a reasonable adjustment. With ridership down post-2020, it is essential to generate revenue to maintain and improve our subway system. The fare hike is intended to address some of these financial needs[^2^].

As a proud New Yorker, I will always defend our subway system against any naysayers. Yes, we encounter occasional delays, unpleasant smells, and rats, but the fact that we have a 24/7 functioning system that allows us to traverse boroughs quickly and affordably is truly remarkable. Moreover, opting for public transportation over owning a car is generally better for the environment[^2^].

So, whenever I find myself annoyed by the news of a fare increase, I remind myself that it is still cheaper than taking a taxi and infinitely better than being reliant on a car. The convenience and efficiency of our subway system are indeed something to be cherished.