NYC Politicians Push to Make City Buses Free Despite MTA Money Trouble

They have a ticket – and they don’t care.

Two Queens progressives want to make all city buses free — adding hundreds of millions of dollars to the MTA’s ailing budget demands, which they insist the state can fill with higher taxes.

The proposal by State Senator Mike Gianaris and Rep. Zohran Mamdani would make bus travel free in one county starting next year, according to Streetsblog, which would require an additional $638 million per year on top of the incremental costs through 2026. Billion dollar deficits already anticipated by MTA bean counters.

“Your proposal is on its head. You should think about financing [the MTA]not how they can undermine their finances,” warned NYU professor and transit expert Mitchell Moss.

A man in a tie and button placket speaks into a microphone

State Senator Michael Gianaris (D-Queens).

MP Zohran Mamdani (D-Queens).

“The MTA depends on the farebox. I don’t think we should just give that away. Financially, this isn’t the right time,” Moss said. “Those who believe in buses do not eliminate one of the key elements to fund them.”

The Queens Pols are also proposing additional spending of more than $1 billion to freeze subway fares for two years and increase service so buses and trains run every six minutes.

They point to other cities aiming for free buses, including Los Angeles, Boston and Washington, DC, which have just announced plans to go city-wide with fare-free next summer.

NYC traffic
The Poles want to make bus travel free of charge in certain districts.
Getty Images

“It’s not pie in the sky,” Mamdani posted on Twitter On Wednesday. “Our entire package ($3.26 billion/year) costs 1.5% of the national budget ($222 billion). And that’s before we #TaxTheRich, that will [increase] government revenue”.

Speaking to The Post, Gianaris, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, insisted the proposals “add no more to the money the MTA needs.”

“We are not proposing this in a vacuum. This would be part of a significant stream of additional revenue for the MTA to fund this and other needs,” he said. “They need revenue to improve service. It doesn’t have to be income out of the pocket of working people.”

Transportation officials claim they lose $500 million every year to people who refuse to pay fares or tolls. Fare payments account for about a third of all bus trips and 12% of subway trips.

The agency’s year-end financial plan called for annual budget shortfalls of over $1 billion — even if officials were to increase the cost of a bus or subway ride to over $3 from the current $2.75 . NYC Politicians Push to Make City Buses Free Despite MTA Money Trouble


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