Legislators and transit riders alike unveiled a series of legislation in both the state Assembly and Senate that would cap the subway fare at $2.75, make the MTA free and improve subway headways. The package of eight bills will be deliberated and sponsors are hopeful it will pass in the 2024 fiscal year state budget.
Present at the rally were a plethora of senators and Assemblymembers, chief among them being Senate Deputy Leader Mike Gianaris, D-Astoria, and Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani, who both spoke at the event.
“There is a crisis in New York City, and that crisis is the MTA,” said Gianaris. “And we have a plan to fix it.”
Legislators were also joined by members of the Rider’s Alliance, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit which calls itself “a grassroots movement for public transit.”
The package to fix the MTA consists of eight bills, each with a version in the Assembly and Senate, led by a spending bill spearheaded by Sen. Gianaris (S.4024) and Assembly Member Mamdani (A.4122) which would mandate that a specific pool of money be set aside for specific purposes in tax years 2023- 2026 to improve service and stabilize the authority’s finances.
Mamdani, in particular, noted that the bills were being supported by members of both parties and members of both the Assembly and the Senate.
The plan is an ambitious one; it includes keeping NYC subway fares at $2.75, improving subway headways to six minutes and over the course of four years, would make all MTA buses in the five boroughs completely free. (New York City buses were free during the lockdown of Spring 2020, but fares returned in August of that same year.) Several speakers emphasized the success that other cities across the country, particularly Kansas City, have had in keeping buses free since the pandemic.
“There is no reason why people should be paying for a service that belongs to everyone,” said Sen. Juan Ardila, D-Sunnyside. Sponsors hope to make the package a part of the final budget for fiscal year 2024, which will be announced on April 1. Those looking for more information on the campaign, as well as the eight bills comprising the plan, can go to fixthemta.org.
Watch Sen. Gianaris at the #FixTheMTA Press Conference at the Capitol on Feb. 14, 2023