Merry Christmas — here’s that money we stole!

I was under the impression the MTA was in dire financial straits, but according to today’s amNewYork, they have such a huge surplus ($933 million!) that they’re considering giving everyone discounts for the holiday season. As a buyer of 30-day unlimited MetroCards for $76, I, for example, would get four bonus days on any card I purchased between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

I have a better idea, though: How about not raising fares in the first place? I used to pay $70 for my 30-day card. Meanwhile, once upon a time, a subway or bus ride used to be $1.50, not $2. If they have so much money that they don’t know what to do with it, why don’t they go back to those prices? I remember that they sold the fare hike at the time by screaming: “We’re going bankrupt! We’re millions in the red! We’re going to have to institute major service cuts unless we can raise prices!” Now, I understand that they have raised prices, so naturally they have more revenue. But they last raised fares in February — they’ve gone from millions in debt to almost a billion-dollar surplus within eight months? Even if they really did have to raise fares, which I doubt, why did they have to raise them so much? As a non-profit government agency, they’re supposed to be operating, well, without a profit. Maybe if I were paying, say, $71 for my MetroCard, or if one ride cost $1.60, they’d be at a break-even point.

I will gladly sacrifice my four extra days of subway time for some long-term relief. And where’s that Second Avenue Subway?

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