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MTA needs new funding sources to avoid unplanned fare hikes: study

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A new analysis by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is raising concerns about the agency’s funding sources

Via William Perugini/Shutterstock

Subway riders may have to cough up more money to use the service in the coming years if the MTA is unable to find sources to fund its action plan to improve the subway, according to a recently analysis conducted by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

“In the absence of adequate funding, the system could fall into further disrepair and riders could face unplanned fare hikes,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “The state and city need to find solutions to prevent these possibilities from becoming reality, and the MTA must make the best use of its resources."

In his report, DiNapoli pinpoints a large number of issues with the aging subway infrastructure: one-third of the subway fleet is more than 30 years old, 40 percent of the signals are more than 50 years old, and trains are breaking down much sooner than they did in the past.

The MTA’s $836M action plan is meant to address many of these problems, but DiNapoli is raising concerns about where the MTA plans to get those funds from. In his report he says that the MTA expects the city and state to share the burden on the $836M cost, but the de Blasio administration has categorically refused, pointing to the state having depleted the agency’s funds for other uses.

De Blasio has instead proposed a millionaires tax to help fund some of the subway’s needs, but regardless, as DiNapoli points out in his report, no clear funding agreement has been reached between the city and the state.

While the $836M is supposed to fund short term fixes and improvements, the MTA is also looking to spend $8 billion to modernize the system in the future, and DiNapoli says it’s not yet clear where these funds are coming from either.

The MTA has already accounted for 4 percent fare hikes in 2019, and 2021, much like it introduced a fare hike earlier this year. This may not be sufficient to cover the MTA’s funding needs, according to DiNapoli’s analysis.

MTA Chair Joe Lhota told the Wall Street Journal, which first reported on DiNapoli’s analysis, that talks of additional fare increases are “fear-mongering,” and that commuters won’t be impacted.