The price of a subway ride in New York City will officially increase next month from $2.75 to $2.90, as transit costs rise in several US cities.

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) board voted to increase the base fares for subways and buses to $2.90 by late August during a Wednesday meeting, the New York Times reported.

It is the first time that the price of base fares have increased in eight years for the country’s largest public transportation system, as the state-run corporation navigates decreased ridership and shaky finances.

The latest price increase of base fares was announced in May, as the MTA board forwarded the proposal in an attempt to boost revenue by 4%, the New York Daily News reported.

Transit ridership fell by as much as 90% in 2020, Bloomberg News reported. While ridership has been steadily increasing to the pre-pandemic average, the MTA is still saddled with billions of dollars in debt, expected to hit $52.7bn by 2028.

As of May 2023, the country’s eight largest transit systems face a collective budget shortfall of about $6.6bn through the 2026 fiscal year, Bloomberg reports.

Several US cities have proposed or implemented fair hikes for their public transportation systems to increase revenue lost as commuting declined during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Washington Post reported.

San Fransisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (Bart) fares will increase by 11% over two years as the transit system navigates a budget shortfall amid decreased ridership during the pandemic, SFGate reported.

Metrorail in Washington DC, the country’s third largest rail system, approved a fare hike in April. The transit system had decreased base fares to $2 from $2.25, but longer trips on the metro system now cost more, NBC Washington reports.

Meanwhile, other cities have eliminated fares, providing free transportation for all riders regardless of income. In Kansas City, buses are fare-free through 2023. Boston has been experimenting with a similar initiative, eliminating fares for some bus lines.

In New York, reaction to the announcement has been sharp on social media, as users decried the increase. One user noted that the higher fare would increase the costs of the daily commute to work: “$6 just to get to and from work!”

Other users remarked that they were not seeing any improvements with the MTA’s transit system – such as installing air conditioning on train platforms – despite the rising cost of using it.

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“Is the extra $.15 a surcharge for the extra rats?” tweeted one user.

Danny Pearlstein, policy and communications director at the Riders Alliance, said the fare hike isn’t necessarily a surprise in New York given the rising costs of many goods and services. The increase was also foreordained in New York’s state budget, he added.

But Pearlstein noted that the increase is still felt by riders, especially low-income passengers.

“That doesn’t take the sting out of it for New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet,” said Pearlstein, whose organization is campaigning for New York to expand its Fair Fares program, an initiative that provides subsidized transit fare to low-income New Yorkers.

“We’re calling on Mayor Adams to expand eligibility as much as possible to make the most of New York’s investment in transit equity,” he said.

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