Student MetroCards: Who’s to Blame?

Learn Something // News

The MTA has been holding public hearings on planned cuts that will decimate transit riders, add even more inconvenience to the lives of the disabled and others reliant on Access-a-Ride, and force New York City students to pay just to get to school. In a word, it’s shameful.

But does the MTA deserve all the blame? Take a look at this chart, from transit blogger Benjamin Kabak at Second Avenue Sagas:

Share of student MetroCards over time.

The MTA, New York City, and the state agreed to split the cost of providing free student transit passes back in 1995. But since then, the school population has grown and the cost of the program has risen to $214 million — and the contributions from the city and state have remained the same. In fact, Gov. Paterson and the State Legislature cut the state’s share from $45 million to $6 million last year! (Paterson later agreed to increase it — but to just $25 million.)

The Daily News gets it. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Council Transportation Chair James Vacca get it. They wrote an op-ed in the Daily News saying the city should consider increasing aid to the student transit program if the state does too.

But a lot of elected officials don’t get it. It’s easy to call the MTA “immoral” for abandoning its responsibility to New York City students, as 24 State Assemblymembers did in a recent letter. It’s harder for them to understand that they have responsibilities too.