Lower public transport costs and charge Uber, Lyft like taxis in Midtown

By Elliot Chen July 9, 2023

The MTA, having secured effective funding strategy, is exploring measures for reducing or eliminating bus fares, and enhancing services. The strategy involves levying charges on For-Hire Vehicles similar to those on yellow taxis.

This spring, the governor and the chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) have risen to the occasion, securing a fair and encompassing financing strategy for the MTA. It may not cater to all growth and enhancement needs that the MTA requires to keep New York at the forefront of global cities, but the strategy is deemed by the state comptroller, to be enough to steady the MTA's funding-associated troubles. This represents a significant leap forward for the MTA and its dependents.

The realization of congestion pricing now appears to be on the horizon. Given the green light from the federal authorities and with no foreseeable roadblocks in play, the establishment of tolling in the Midtown area is expected to bring forth a considerable fresh income stream for the MTA. In light of the improved funding scenario, the MTA is musing over the possibility of raising fares. Concomittantly, discussions are underway regarding slashing subway fares or even providing free bus rides.

For the first time in decades, MTA finds itself positioned to undertake beneficial measures without the constant worry of settling bills. The concept of free or greatly reduced bus fares has joined the conversation, suggesting a promising step forward. Strengthening subway services remains the ideal long-term solution for enhancing transportation, however, upgrades in bus service can be realized more swiftly. Employing electric and renewable natural gas-powered buses holds the potential to catalyze an eco-friendly expansion, making our streets more efficiently usable.

These progressions, undoubtedly, call for additional funding. A prospective remedy lies in sourcing funds via levying charges on Uber and Lyft, akin to what yellow taxis already shoulder. This approach would not only help rectify the historical wrongdoings against the yellow taxi industry but also foster better environmental practices. Instituting an additional 50 cents per FHV ride could pull in approximately $75 million annually, while a $3 charge could yield an estimated $400 million yearly. Such resources could prove sufficient to hold off fare hikes or improve bus services.

MTA's Traffic Mobility Review Board now wields the power to tackle multiple concerns. By placing charges on FHVs, akin to those already levied against yellow taxis, MTA could secure a consistent source of funds and amend the imbalance between yellow taxis and FHVs. Such corrections could revive the dwindling yellow taxi industry, attract higher ridership, and alleviate the grievances of medallion owners. Proposals to charge FHVs either $15,000 annually to operate in Manhattan and from airports or a flat fee of $3 per ride, hold potential to right historical wrongs and to provide MTA with funds needed to augment services or reduce fares.