New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the largest U.S. transit agency, proposed a 4 percent fare increase for 2019.
The recommendation, made Wednesday, would come after it boosted the price of a subway ride by 25 cents in March to $2.75. Another jump is set for 2017.
The MTA is using operating funds to narrow the shortfall in its $32 billion five-year capital plan, which pays to maintain and expand the subway, bus and railroad system, Bob Foran, the MTA’s chief financial officer, said during a board meeting. That will cut the deficit to $12.4 billion from $14.8 billion.
The MTA is talking with state lawmakers and officials about how to eliminate the rest of the gap, Tom Prendergast, the agency’s chief executive officer, said during the meeting. The MTA needs to find ways to cut spending before requesting state and federal money, he said.
“Before we make an ask of our other stakeholder partners for the money we need to be able to fund the capital program, we have to demonstrate a continued focus on taking costs out of the organization,” Prendergast said.
The agency had $36 billion of debt as of July 3, according to the MTA’s website. Principal and interest payments are projected to take up 19 percent of the operating budget by 2019, up from 16 percent now, Foran said during the meeting.
“Virtually one out of every five operating dollars going to interest payments makes us more vulnerable to fluctuations in the economy, over which we have absolutely no control,” Fernando Ferrer, the MTA’s vice chairman and former Bronx borough president, said.
Moody’s Investors Service this month boosted the MTA’s rating to A1, its fifth-highest grade, because of the strengthening finances of the city and state and high ridership levels. The MTA serves an average 8.7 million people every weekday.