N.Y. Today: Higher Fares on the Subway? Not This Year.

What you need to know for Wednesday.

Higher Fares on the Subway? Not This Year.

By Troy Closson

Reporter, Metro

It's Wednesday.

Weather: Partly sunny and hazy, with a high in the mid-80s. Afternoon thunderstorms could come with strong wind and hail.

Alternate-side parking: Suspended today for Eid al-Adha.


Gregg Vigliotti for The New York Times

Commuters will have a little longer before their fares become more expensive.

On Tuesday, Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials said that for the rest of the year, they will hold off on implementing a proposed 4 percent fare increase on New York's subway, buses and two commuter rail lines.


"It's the board's unanimous recognition that many of our customers are suffering the aftereffects of the pandemic," said Patrick J. Foye, the agency's chairman and chief executive.

[Read the full story from my colleagues Winnie Hu and Ashley Wong on the postponed fare increase.]

Here's what to know:

The details

As the M.T.A. faced a financial crisis in the pandemic, officials suggested the fare hike could help. They laid out several options for how the increase could be applied: raising the base fare; increasing the surcharge for buying a new MetroCard; and eliminating seven- and 30-day unlimited passes, or raising their prices.


But the discussions caused a backlash. Transit advocates and some elected officials said the financial burden would disproportionally fall on essential and low-wage workers, who make up much of today's ridership — and often face financial challenges because of the pandemic.

"What can I do?" said John Louis, 85, who was riding a bus in Manhattan. He does not have a car, and said fares were already too high. "It's not fair for a lot of people."

The context

The transit agency has raised fares every other year since 2009 to help balance its budget.

The 4 percent fare increase was expected to bring in about $17 million in revenue in 2021. But concerns about how customers are suffering financially in the pandemic — along with the ongoing struggles to bring back more riders to the system — led the agency to decide against implementing a hike this year, Mr. Foye said.

Still, Larry Schwartz, the chairman of the M.T.A. finance committee, left open the possibility of an increase in 2022.

The ridership

Transit ridership and fare revenue fell at the height of the pandemic as in-person work and tourism decreased. Ridership on subways and buses has since picked up, but it remains half of the prepandemic peak.

Before the pandemic, roughly just over half of the agency's revenue typically came from fares for the subway, buses and commuter rails, and tolls for bridges and tunnels controlled by the M.T.A. (The agency enacted an increase in tolls earlier this year.)

From The Times

The Mini Crossword: Here is today's puzzle.

What we're reading

Mayor Bill de Blasio said that New York's public housing agency will create a plan to overhaul its closed and decaying playgrounds. [The City]

Wait times to get a passport can be up to 18 weeks because of backlogs, and elected officials in New York and New Jersey are pressing the State Department to address the delays. [Gothamist]

Greg Knapp, an assistant coach for the New York Jets, was in critical condition after a bicycle accident. [NBC 4 New York]

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And finally: Food carts confront a new New York

Around 11:30 a.m. on a muggy July Wednesday in Midtown Manhattan, the line for Uncle Gussy's food truck started to form.

As the truck served warm gyros and fragrant chicken platters to the customers who wandered out of the sleek office towers nearby, Nicko Karagiorgos, the food cart's gregarious co-owner, greeted his regulars. How are the kids? Did your friends like the food last time?

But soon, he got to his real questions: When is your office reopening fully? When are the workers returning?

For Mr. Karagiorgos and thousands of other food truck operators and vendors in New York City, their shot at making any meaningful profits — or, in some cases, even making it worth their while to haul their carts into the city — depends on when office buildings fill up with workers and tourists return in significant numbers.

Food trucks and cart vendors are part of the city's fabric, fast and inexpensive options for hungry office workers, retail employees, students and out-of-town visitors looking for anything from chicken and rice to coffee and an egg sandwich to lobster rolls and even steak meals. But for now, these vendors are primarily watching and waiting.

The past year has been especially difficult for the smaller food carts and vendors. Many are run by recent immigrants who often have obtained the $200 city-issued permit on the underground market, paying as much as $25,000 over two years to the person who holds the permit, even during the pandemic.

Some offices have begun bringing employees back, and there has been an increase in tourists, but the bulk of the usual customer base has not yet reappeared. And while many New York City offices expect to bring more employees back in the fall, the hybrid model of being able to work from home a few days a week is worrisome to these vendors.

"I'm never going to make what I made pre-Covid again. That's game over," Mr. Karagiorgos, 44, said. "We have to accept that and hustle a little harder. This is a young man's game. The hours are long. I'm on my feet all day, but I'll do anything. If you want me to juggle, I'll juggle."

It's Wednesday — eat up.

Metropolitan Diary: Collared curbside

Dear Diary:

I was in the city on business from California. Icy cold December air hit me as I left my hotel in the morning. Looking forward to a brisk walk to the office, I buttoned up my coat and waved off the doorman who had offered to flag me a cab.

I made my way up Madison Avenue. It was a longer walk than I anticipated, so I picked up my pace.

Red light. Green light. Walk.

I was about to step off the curb, my foot in midair, when I felt myself jerked backward violently by my coat's collar. A wall of yellow taxi cabs whooshed through the intersection.

Shaken, I turned around.

There he was: a big man in a red Santa hat.

"Lady," he said in an exasperated tone, "you must be from California."

— Nanki Siegel

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Read more Metropolitan Diary here.

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