Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Public Transportation

Two articles in Tuesday's online edition of the New York Times discuss the cost of riding New York's public transit system. A single ride currently costs $2.00, and the cost can be reduced with the purchase of MetroCards, in both discounted or unlimited ride formats.

The articles discussed (1) the increased fine (from $60 to $100) for evading fare payment, and (2) the inability of the indigent residents of homeless shelters on Wards Island to pay the fare on the M35 bus that takes them to and from the shelters.

This issue resonates with me, because I can't imagine being unable to pay the fare and get around town. I use a monthly pass, which costs $82.00 and allows me to travel on all subways and any non-Express bus lines as many times and as often as I like. What would happen if I lost my job, could not afford the unlimited pass, and needed to travel into Manhattan everyday for job interviews? How long would it be before I couldn't afford to travel on the subway?

I think about the indigent residents of the Wards Island shelters. Their only hope to get out of the cycle of poverty is to get a job. Their hope of getting a job is intrinsically rooted in their ability to get off Wards Island and into the business district where they might apply for work. The only way off and back on the island is a $2.00 bus.

If they board the M35 bus without paying, they are subject to arrest and a $100 fine. If they don't board the M35 bus, they cannot seek employment. It's a real problem.

Should that M35 bus be free?

If it is not free, should the residents of the homeless shelters be fined $100 for failing to pay the fare?

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