- Last Updated: 11:24 PM, September 13, 2012
- Posted: September 14, 2012
Riders didn’t react well to news that the MTA might scrap MetroCard discounts next year.
“It’s going to hurt me a lot,” one told The Post on Wednesday.
But, hey — escalating pension and health-care costs for MTA employees have to be paid for . . . somehow, right?
Fact is, MTA employee perks are out of control; straphangers will be forking over a whole lot more for their rides — one way or another — far into the future.
“I think we need to have a really big public discussion about the fare price and the discounting that goes on,” MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said, discussing various ways of imposing a $450 million fare hike set for next March.
The most obvious way: raising the $2.25 base fare.
But cutting the 7 percent bonus on pay-per-ride MetroCards, or ditching it altogether, as Lhota suggests, might enable the agency to hold down the size of the fare hike — and still manage to raise enough new cash to make ends meet.
Why does it need all that new dough?
That is, pensions and health-care benefits for current and retired MTA employees.
Those, after all, are the chief drivers of the subway and bus fare hikes.
Lhota says the agency’s “discretionary” costs this year have risen a wee 0.6 percent — well below the 2.8 percent inflation rate.
But pension costs are set to shoot up 6.9 percent through 2015, and health-care costs 9.5 percent — way faster than inflation.
That’s unsustainable — even as the agency digs ever deeper into its customers’ pockets.
And, by the way, even the planned fare hikes might not be enough, as they assume that transit employees will accept wage freezes for three years, which TWU President John Samuelsen vows won’t happen.
Plus, if a judge’s ruling striking down the MTA payroll tax stands, it could blow a new $1.8 billion hole in the agency’s budget.
Any way you cut it, riders are sure to get zapped.
It’s what happens when political leaders won’t say “enough” to unions, when it comes to employee perks.Follow @NYPostOpinion