The price of a bus or subway ride will jump to $2.50 at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 3, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority implements fare and toll hikes that were approved back in December.
A $1 “green” surcharge will begin applying to new purchases of MetroCards bought at subway stations, a move deemed an incentive for people to continue to refill and reuse existing cards until they expire.
The increases were put in place as the MTA sought $450 million in revenue to balance its budget.
MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said transit riders will not likely need to take any extraordinary measures once the fare hikes kick in.
“Your existing MetroCard will work just as it did before; you don’t need to replace it,” Donovan said Monday. “In fact, that is what we’re trying to encourage with the new MetroCard surcharge.”
Donovan also said some riders, who purchase unlimited-ride seven- or 30-day MetroCards prior to March 3 can activate them with an initial turnstyle swipe as late as March 10 to take advantage of the lower rate a little longer.
Donovan also said there are myriad ways commuters can avoid the green surcharge.
The fee does not apply to MetroCards purchased at hundreds of shops and stores, vendors considered to be outside of the transit system.
Those who also use tickets for the Long Island Rail Road can skip the surcharge by getting a combination ticket that has a MetroCard on the back.
Donovan said the MTA also would urge anyone who can to take advantage of the pretax travel benefit program offered by many employers in the city, in which MetroCards and other commuter expenses are paid for out of an employee’s pretax earnings, saving the commuter more than just the $1 fee.
Since the MTA budget was adopted on Dec. 19, state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) had protested that commuters in his district in northeast Queens would be unfairly hit with the green surcharge, as machines at Long Island Rail Road stations within his district do not allow residents to add money to existing MetroCards.
Donovan said those residents always can fill their cards at any vending machine at the western end of their commute.
He also said existing cards, which have expiration dates due to the eventual breakdown of the magnetic strip on the back, can have their balances transferred to new cards for free at any manned subway station customer service booth free of charge.
Tolls at the Throgs Neck, Whitestone and RFK/Triborough bridges and the Queens Midtown and Hugh L. Carey/Brooklyn Battery tunnels also will increase for both cash ($7.50) and E-ZPass ($5.33) customers.
Donovan said here too they are not anticipating problems with he morning rush on March 4.
He said the MTA typically has not had delays in the cash-only lanes following increases, especially with more and more drivers opting for the E-ZPass.