2003-03-13 / From The Mayor...

From The Mayor’s Desk...

Understanding The New Fares

From The Mayor’s Desk...

Understanding The New Fares

The fare increases approved by the MTA board last week will strain already pinched family budgets when they go into effect in May. There are nearly eight million people who use subways, buses and commuter trains to get around the region, and who are wondering if there’s anything they can do to lessen the impact of these increased fares.

There are. The best way to beat the fare increase is to look for the discounts. Arrange your budget so you can buy 30-day unlimited-ride MetroCards instead of paying for individual rides or buying pay-per-ride cards. The fare increase for the 30-day cards was only 11% compared to the 33% increase for individual rides and the 22% hike in pay-per-ride cards.

The City’s representatives on the MTA board also fought for and won an off-peak $2.50 fare on the LIRR and MetroNorth lines for passengers getting on and off in New York City, making riding these trains more of a bargain.

It’s also a good time to look into something called "TransitChek." That’s an employee benefit program run by Transit Center, Inc., a non-profit public-private partnership that includes the MTA, New Jersey Transit, the PATH train system and major business organizations. TransitChek provides double benefits: it helps more than half a million people in the New York region save money on commuting while also lightening the payroll tax burden on some 14,000 area employers.

Here’s how TransitChek works. Once your company enrolls in the program, you as an employee decide how much you want deducted from your pay before taxes are taken out-up to $100 a month, $1,200 a year. Once you’ve signed up—congratulations! You’ve now cut the annual tax bite out of your paycheck; you could be saving $400 a year. At the same time, your company will be reducing its own tax liability by an amount that could total up to many hundreds of dollars per employee-definitely a win-win situation.

TransitCheks come in two basic forms. There are vouchers that can be used like cash to pay for MetroCards or commuter rail, bus or ferry tickets. There also are unlimited ride MetroCards that go directly to the employee. The more you use those cards, the more you save. You also eliminate the hassle of having to stop at subway station machines or station booths to put more money on your MetroCard-a real convenience during those rush hour commutes when every minute counts.

TransitChek is a smart way to keep the cost of using that system affordable for everyone. For more information about TransitChek, call 1-800-331-CHEK, or visit their web site at: transitcenter.com.

The MTA runs what is far and away the largest and most complex mass transit system in the nation. It operates the country’s biggest bus fleet and more subways and commuter trains than the rest of the nation combined.

And although we’re all disappointed that the MTA decided to increase its fares, I hope these tips help you fit your mass transit trips into your budget.

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