While the authority will end the current year with a $500 million surplus, it forecasts red ink for the foreseeable future and needs to find money now. It’s no mystery why Mr. Spitzer, at the end of a rocky first year and facing red ink of more than $4 billion, would want to put off the day of reckoning. It is puzzling, though, that he is holding off a promise of new transit money to 2010 — when he’ll be seeking re-election.
In the meantime, he should not be rejecting offers for help. The city comptroller, Bill Thompson, produced a study two months ago that found $728 million in potential revenue, more than enough to offset the need for immediate fare increases. And in Albany, scores of lawmakers have vowed to fight for extra money for transportation in the budget due before April 1.
If the increase is approved, the fare would not rise for the 14 percent of passengers who buy single-ride tickets. But the 86 percent who enjoy discounts will pay significantly more. New York passengers already bear more of mass transit’s costs than riders in other major cities. They should be squeezed harder only after every option has been tried.