If you've been watching NY1 over the last few days (and of course you have), you'll no doubt have noticed the huge amount of coverage that the MTA's budget meltdown and proposed doomsday fare hikes have gotten. It was the lead story on The Call Tuesday night, the NY1 Wiseguys debated it on the Road to City Hall, and the main news broadccasts have referenced it every three minutes or so.
And while it SUCKS to suddenly have to pay 25% more for a subway ride - at the precise moment when people can ill afford to do so - I'm going to come out and say that I don't think the $2 per fare/$87 per unlimited monthly pass fares were sustainable.
People, you get A LOT when you buy a Metrocard. You get to travel all over the city, all night long, 24/7. You get to cover huge distances - you can go from the Bronx to Coney Island, from Harlem to the Airport, for $2. You get to take superfast express trains when you're traveling long distance, and if a train that you're on breaks down, you don't have to get off the train and take the bus, because they can just re-route you along the other track since we have the dual-track system. And on several subway lines, you get clean, shiny new trains.
In short, New Yorkers, you just don't know how good you've got it, even with the fare increases. How do I know this? Because I just spent two years living in London, which has a public transport system that is downright apalling by comparison. It's twice as expensive for shorter distances and even more for longer distances, since you get charged for how far you travel. There are no express trains and there's no dual track system, so if you're on a train that breaks down (which you are, frequently, if you live there), you have to wait for them to drag the train out of the station and then you have to just get off and find another way to get where you're going and the whole subway line's service gets suspended. Oh, and it CLOSES. Every night. No trains past 12:30 on weekend nights and even earlier on week nights. The trains are also much dirtier and smaller, which means they're way more crowded. I swear, the MTA could hike the fares up to $4 and it would still be a dream by comparison.
So that's my $0.20, though Curtis Sliwa would undoutedly disagree with me.