The Metropolitan Transportation Authority gave Yalies who travel to New York City an early holiday present yesterday after the city officials decided to offer special promotional fares during the holiday season for New York City subways as well as the Metro North Railroad.
The plan to cut subway fares in New York City from $2 to $1 on holidays and weekends from Nov. 24 to Jan. 2, which will cost the city $50 million, passed the MTA board Thursday with a vote of 12 to 2, MTA spokeswoman Mercedes Padilla said. The plan also promises a free round-trip off-peak ticket for each weekly pass and a free 10-trip off-peak ticket for each monthly pass purchased in December for Metro-North riders.
New Haven business experts said they do not think the fare cuts will detract from the holiday sales of local businesses. The fare promotion may actually benefit stores in the Elm City by attracting customers from surrounding areas, Director of University Properties David Newton said.
“I don’t imagine that it will have any effect on New Haven merchants other than possibly a positive [one] from people who might not otherwise come up to New Haven,” Newton said.
But not everyone is happy with the fare cuts. Jim Cameron, vice president of the Connecticut Metro-North Shore Line East Rail Commuter Council, said he thinks the cuts could exacerbate crowding on an already busy route and do nothing to improve the infrastructure of the rail network.
“The [surplus] would have bought a lot of long-term benefits if it was invested in new cars and new locomotives,” he said. “It seemed like a good idea at the time, but if they have the surplus they should really invest it.”
The funding for the fare cuts will come from $700 million surplus that resulted from a relatively high real-estate taxes and low interest rates, according to an MTA statement. The board has not yet decided how to use the remainder of the surplus.
The plan is aimed at alleviating traffic congestion and boosting the economic health of the region during the holiday season, according to the statement.
Students had mixed reactions to the plan. New York City resident Ben Bokser ’09 said that although fare cuts for New York subways would be helpful for travel within the city, buying monthly or weekly passes does not make sense economically for most Yalies.
“When I’m in the city, I already use the subway much more than anything else, so it might help,” he said. “I haven’t used [Metro-North] monthly or weekly passes yet because it has never been that advantageous.”
Elise Patterson ’08 said she agrees that monthly and weekly passes are not useful for Yalies and said she does not think transportation costs usually factor into students’ decisions to travel to New York.
“I don’t see a slight decrease in the subway price as a motivation to go to New York,” she said. “When I go to New York City, I’m prepared to spend money because it’s an expensive city, and my decision is not based on the cost of subway fares.”
The promotional fares will also extend to New York City buses and the Long Island Rail Road. The MTA will consider another holiday promotion for next year after they review the results of the this year’s holiday promotion.