MTA votes to hike MetroCard fares

MANHATTAN - Amid protests outside its Manhattan headquarters, the MTA voted Wednesday to increase some transit fares, but to leave the single-ride fare at $2.

The board voted 12-2 to increase monthly MetroCards to $81 from $76 and weekly cards to $25 from $24. Riders will also have the option of a new two-week $47 unlimited MetroCard.

The hike comes even after legislators and transit riders came out against the plan.

"Eighty-five percent of riders do not use [single-ride] cards," said Tom Siracuse, of the Green Party. "They use weekly and monthly passes."

The last base fare hike occurred in 2003 when the price went from $1.50 to $2. The various discount programs now in effect make the average actual fare about $1.30.

The MTA backed off a proposed increase in base fares last month after an additional $220 million was found in its updated budget forecasts, with a portion of the funds coming from an increase in anticipated ridership. MTA CEO Elliot Sander defended the hikes, saying they're necessary to avoid bigger increases in the future. Sander said the money is needed to cover a projected $1.8 billion 2010 deficit. He also promised to lobby state lawmakers for $28 million for service improvements.

Tolls on MTA bridges will also increase 25 to 50 cents and fares for the suburban commuter Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road lines will go up 4 percent.

The changes will take effect in March 2008.

AP wire reports contributed to this story.

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