NYC subway fare hike: Why I don’t have any complain

By Alex P. Vidal

“The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenements halls and whispered in the sounds of silence.”— Paul Simon

EFFECTIVE August 20, Sunday, New York City subway fares will jump from $2.75 to $2.90, a 5.5 percent increase as approved by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), a public benefit corporation responsible for public transportation in the New York City metropolitan area of the New York State, in July this year.
While many “worried” commuters have expressed frustrations and blasted the increase in formal letters and in the social media, I did not. And I wouldn’t.

I thought it’s about time. The proposed fare increase had been thoroughly and sufficiently explained to us commuters.

In the last quarters of 2020 and in 2021 when the pandemic was still terrorizing us (New York City’s Elmhurst community where I lived was COVID-19’s epicenter of the epicenter), MTA gave us free rides around New York City in the buses and, sometimes, in the subway.

I was one of the those who availed the free rides not just for several months, but for a long time—more than a year, more or less. As a regular commuter from Queens to Brooklyn via Manhattan vice versa, I was able to save a lot.


Even if we had no regular work at that time due to pandemic restrictions, I “abused” my free ride privileges by going to the Rockaway Beach regularly, among other “safer” destinations and to stroll around Midtown Manhattan.

New Yorkers, or US residents for that matter, were among the most pampered in the world during the horrific period of COVID-19 because of the abundance of freebies.

Aside from the boxes of food supplies that “knocked” on our doors every week, the federal and state governments, through the Department of Labor, also subsidized us with $800 to $1,200 each a week. Plus the free bus and sometimes subway rides. So why will I go ballistic for the slight subway ride increase?

Now that MTA has announced and approved a fare hike, I thought by not opposing it was my own way of paying back the government—the MTA—for its “kindness” via the joy rides in 2020 and 2021.

I thought instead of bellyaching, I should “count my blessings” and pay them forward.


Today, I spend $5.5 when I take the subway from Queens to my workplace in Manhattan every Tuesday morning, and another ride back from Manhattan to Queens every Monday morning during my off day. From my apartment to the mall where I spend my off day, I take the bus for another $2.75 for a total of $8.25 per week. In one month, my budget for the subway and bus rides is $33 or P1,815 in Philippine money.

With the recent fare increase, I will now prepare $34.8 or P1,914 in

Philippine money for a month. With an increase of $1.8, I think it’s not practical to go against the fare increase, modesty aside.

Instead of bellyaching, I just “count my blessings” in return.

The New York Post has reported that as the long-dreaded MTA bus and subway fare hikes take effect August 20, New York City commuters are on the express train to frustrated.

“The trains are not reliable. The subway is nothing for New Yorkers to be proud of,” Kayla Vasquez, 25, an art teacher from Manhattan who took a train Friday night to see friends in Brooklyn, was quoted by The Post as saying.

“We’re already paying more everything from our food to our rent,” Vasquez said. “I already live paycheck to paycheck. I’ve already cut out all the Ubers. Now I don’t know what is left to cut.”

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)