MTA proposes to raise fares again for city straphangers to close budget gap

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted in favor Thursday of moving forward with the budget process, despite the fact that it may have to raise fares for Bronx and city straphangers.

The MTA board proposed increases in the discount MetroCard transit fare cards; fare increases are also proposed for Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North as well.

The MTA has a projected $540 million budget gap in 2005 that could grow to more than $1 billion the next year.

The MTA raised subway and bus fares to $2 last year. And suburban riders were hit with an average 25 percent increase. The agency also increased tolls on nine city-area bridges and tunnels.

The next step will be to have public hearings on the possible fare increases and service cutbacks.Related story:MTA to release preliminary budget that may include some cutbacks

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