It’s the MTA’s most reliable service — constant fare hikes. The transit agency will increase fares for the fourth time in five years this weekend, infuriating fed-up riders who are now searching for cheaper ways to get around town.
The hikes will send the cost of a monthly MetroCard to $112. At this time in 2008, the same card cost just $76.
That’s an incredible 47 percent increase in five years.
“I might invest in a bicycle,” said Steven Syrek, a 34-year old Ph.D. student who lives on the Upper West Side.
“After three months of not buying a MetroCard, I could afford a bike.”
He would, however, miss one subway benefit.
“I couldn’t read during my [two-wheel] commute,” he said.
Bean counters at the always-broke agency said they plan to hike fares every other year to make ends meet.
This year alone, said MTA officials, the agency needs the hikes to fill a $382 million budget gap.
Some straphangers said they’ll try to work from home to save on commuting costs.
“With the fare hike, I’ll try to avoid the subways as much as possible,” said Crown Heights, Brooklyn, resident Aliya Barnwell, 30, who rides the 4 train.
She’s even considering upgrading her current bicycle to a more rugged model to use during the winter.
“I’d rather make an investment than pay the MTA more,” she said.
The first wave of hikes kicks in on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Friday, when fares will increase by up to 9.3 percent.
“I’m mad about it but what can I do?” said physical-therapy student Joanna Esteves, who travels from Mineola to Penn Station on the LIRR.
“I can’t stop going to school,” she said.
To compensate, she’s considering opting for a less expensive iPad data plan, which should save her about $20 a month.
Also, “I think I won’t be able to eat out as much,” she said.
Anyone with an unlimited-ride MetroCard purchased before Sunday must activate it by March 10 to obtain the full value.
The MTA will also hike fares in 2015 — bringing in another $500 million.
Officials say they desperately need the money to pay for fixed costs, like soaring pensions and employee-health care.