A welcome relief
Straphangers have much to be thankful
for this time of year; they won’t
have to dig deeper into their pockets
to buy MetroCards next year.
That’s because Governor Kathy Hochul
and the MTA offi cially announced Monday
that there won’t be a fare hike next year.
The $2.75 base fare for a subway or bus
ride, and the costs of unlimited MetroCards
($33 for 7 days, $127 for 30 days) will remain
exactly the same as they are.
Even better, the MTA also ruled out any
service cuts in the coming year as well —
something city transit riders have dreaded
for months as a result of fi nancial troubles
related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s all thanks to billions of dollars in
federal economic relief that the MTA
will receive as a result of the Bipartisan
Infrastructure Bill that President Joe Biden
signed into law Monday.
Acting MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber
also noted that the decision to hold off on
the fare hike is part of the authority’s ongoing
effort to get riders back into the subway
system, where ridership (while growing)
remains far off its pre-pandemic numbers.
Indeed, it would have been nothing short
of madness for the MTA to force riders to
pay more for reduced service.
Instead, the MTA is making a smart, yet
safe bet on commuters given the current
period of infl ation we’re enduring. One trip
on a subway or bus will cost you $2.75;
the average price for a gallon of gasoline in
New York City is up to $3.44, and climbing.
For many drivers, the added costs of
fuel, combined with all the other expenses
involved with owning a car (insurance, parking,
repairs, etc.), might fi nally be incentive
enough to convince them to leave their vehicles
at home, and hop on a subway or bus.
The pause on a fare hike is also potentially
good news for the city’s environment.
Less cars on the road and more people on
public transit means less pollution and
congestion on the city streets.
It also will help make the streets more
safe for pedestrians and bicyclists after
a year in which the Five Boroughs saw a
troubling and signifi cant increase in traffi c
Keeping transit costs low for New Yorkers
is one of the best ways to help the city
recover from this damaging pandemic, and
enter a new era of prosperity and mobility.
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East Village needs more
Citibike docks, and fast
BY SOPHIE MAEROWITZ
A few weeks ago in my neighborhood
of the East Village, I found myself
on an unplanned journey wandering
around with three other stranded
travelers. All of us had returned home for
the evening via Citi Bikes, yet there were
no docks available to park. It took around
30 minutes of walking our bikes, wasting
time, before we fi nally found some place
to put them.
The experience was frustrating, and
seems more common than it used to be.
I, for once, could relate to the challenges
of fi nding parking that the small number
of New York City drivers so often – and so
loudly – complain about.
Unlike fi nding a space for a large car,
however – a fundamental problem of their
geometry in a dense, highly populated area
– there is no real excuse to not have enough
parking for space-effi cient Citi Bikes.
I have been trying to understand why
the Citi Bike experience has felt so different
lately. Fortunately, a study by NYCDOT
and Citi Bike was released last week that
has made things more clear: as the Citi Bike
system has expanded, adding thousands of
new riders from communities across New
York City, that increased ridership has put
more pressure on the system as a whole.
More bikes coming in from Queens, for
example, means more docks are needed in
Midtown, the Financial District, and yes,
the Lower East Side, too, which remain
extremely popular destinations. Lack of
suffi cient Citi Bike docking capacity–sideby
side with more bikes – means “balance
issues” are much more likely to arise where
some neighborhoods have too many bikes
at one time, and others have too few.
The remedy, ultimately, is to put more
docks and stations down. It’s like working
out your core, and not just doing arm or leg
day: It’s important for overall health, even
if it’s less groundbreaking.
PHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES
The study projected that a lack of suffi -
cient Citi Bike density meant that up to four
million rides that would have otherwise
been taken by Citi Bike were instead taken by
other means. Some would-be riders opted for
public transit, and some ended up walking,
but surely a signifi cant number took a car,
whether taxi, rideshare, or their own vehicle.
Each trip taken by car that could have been
taken by bike means more dangerous streets
for New Yorkers, more congestion for that
relatively small group that really do need to
use a car and more particulate matter in our
Given my experience the other week, it
also wasn’t a surprise to me to see on the
study’s heat map that the Lower East Side
stands out like a sore thumb as a neighborhood
in need of docks.
My neighborhood serves as an ideal conduit
between Brooklyn and Manhattan (via
the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges),
as well as from Uptown Manhattan and
Queens (via the Queensboro bridge) down to
the Financial District. On weekends, it’s not
uncommon to see older teenagers take out
Citi Bikes and use the Avenue B Open Street
to ride safely in a low-traffi c setting. Students
can also be seen using Citi Bike to get to and
from their evening classes, dinner and social
plans – there’s always an abundance of things
to do in this neighborhood, and people love
Unfortunately, it is still too often a
civic fi ght to get more Citi Bike docks where
they’re clearly needed – mostly because so
much curb space has been used for private
car parking for so long, and a handful of
residents used to having free parking year
after year are loathe to give that perk up.
Ultimately, there are few better ways to
reduce gridlock than to get people out of
their cars and on bikes – so long as those
bikes are readily available, where and when
you need them.
Maerowitz is a writer and CUNY graduate
student living in the East Village.
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