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Doubling the subway fare in 1948

Posted by Joe on Sat Apr 13 12:18:31 2019

Today's New York Times has a half-page article about doubling the New York subway fare on July 1, 2019. Although it quotes knowledgeable historians (Sparberg, Freeman, Derrick), it neglects the simultaneous creation of many inter-divisional free transfers which previously cost the rider another nickel. For many riders the fare remained the same, two nickels.
  • 1948 fare hike


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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Spider-Pig on Sat Apr 13 12:55:06 2019, in response to Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Joe on Sat Apr 13 12:18:31 2019.

    From archive.is

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Andrew Saucci on Sat Apr 13 13:07:14 2019, in response to Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Joe on Sat Apr 13 12:18:31 2019.

    Maybe if the fare hadn't been held so low, we could have had the IND Second System today, or at least a good chunk of it, or at least the Second Avenue Subway.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Express Rider on Sat Apr 13 23:42:55 2019, in response to Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Joe on Sat Apr 13 12:18:31 2019.

    In the background of the first picture of the picketers and signs, the City Hall station kiosk still stands, closed up, in 1947. Interesting that it wasn't dismantled immediately when the station closed.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by randyo on Sun Apr 14 00:59:40 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Andrew Saucci on Sat Apr 13 13:07:14 2019.

    Exactly. The 5 cent fare was outdated almost from the day it was established. Even after the NYCTA was established to supposedly remove subway operations out of city politics, the fare remained and still remains a political hot potato.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Mitch45 on Sun Apr 14 14:00:44 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Spider-Pig on Sat Apr 13 12:55:06 2019.

    These are the people that Robert Moses dismissed as "noisy rabble".

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Joe on Sun Apr 14 14:28:27 2019, in response to Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Joe on Sat Apr 13 12:18:31 2019.

    The title of my original post gives the correct year, 1948. My first sentence gives an incorrect year.
    --
    What I recall most about the free transfers was that they often involved moving fences and turnstiles. The most helpful 1948 free transfer for us on Marble Hill was the ability to gain the Independent at 168th Street for no extra fare. It somehow seemed that the extra speed south of 125th Street made up for time lost on the elevator.
    ---
    The other advantageous new free transfers were at Columbus Circle and at Times Square (IRT-BMT, not then IND). Union Square free transfers were a big deal, and Lorimer Street surprisingly worth exploring. I think Jackson Heights became the busiest new free transfer using paper.
    ---
    In later years, the TA realized that it could reduce the number of change agents if a free transfer was supplied somewhere where fences could be removed. The motive became salary reduction rather than passenger convenience.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Jackson Park B Train on Sun Apr 14 14:39:54 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Spider-Pig on Sat Apr 13 12:55:06 2019.

    riding as free as walking the money losing sidewalks.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by AlM on Sun Apr 14 16:21:06 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Joe on Sun Apr 14 14:28:27 2019.

    The motive became salary reduction rather than passenger convenience.

    But a bunch of transfers were definitely for customer convenience.

    Connecting the IND at Times Square, and L to 1/2/3 definitely had that purpose. So was 7 to B/D/F/M, which was actually really expensive to construct.





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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Jackson Park B Train on Sun Apr 14 17:07:16 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Andrew Saucci on Sat Apr 13 13:07:14 2019.

    no, the SAS funding was not fare dependent. It took decades for the pols to figure out that transit CANNOT be self-sustaining by farebox receipts alone. The costs to build infrastructure and maintain fleets for rush hour crowding make this so. The single counter example, Hong Kong, depends on lucrative real estate rents--imagine the MTA owning/collecting rents on essentially ALL of the office buildings along the major trunks.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Spider-Pig on Sun Apr 14 17:53:31 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Jackson Park B Train on Sun Apr 14 17:07:16 2019.

    Given that the real estate value is largely dependent on the availability of transportation, that makes sense.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Andrew Saucci on Sun Apr 14 17:59:56 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Jackson Park B Train on Sun Apr 14 17:07:16 2019.

    "...transit CANNOT be self-sustaining by farebox receipts alone...

    But they sure help!

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Jackson Park B Train on Sun Apr 14 18:12:14 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Andrew Saucci on Sun Apr 14 17:59:56 2019.

    no, in most cases in the US, farebox recovery is around 25% +/-
    NYCT subway does much better, NY Bus not. WMATA does fairly well, Metrobus, not. And we know how both have skimped on maintenance for (how many? years which totally skews the ##. BART recently got a $3.5 billion bond issue approved to fund basic deferred maintenance and are in delivery of a new fleet replacing all of the current cars (some though GOH'd in the 90s are the originals from 72-74) over the next few years.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Andrew Saucci on Sun Apr 14 19:59:18 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Jackson Park B Train on Sun Apr 14 18:12:14 2019.

    While I understand the concept that mass transit benefits everyone, even those who don't actually use it themselves, 25% from the fare box is pathetic. There is also lots to be said for the assertion that those who directly benefit from a service should be the ones who pay at least a good portion of the cost-- and not everyone who uses mass transit is dirt poor. We could certainly do lots more for transit if the fare were more realistic in terms of supporting the system.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Olog-hai on Sun Apr 14 21:10:31 2019, in response to Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Joe on Sat Apr 13 12:18:31 2019.

    10Ę on July 1, 1948 is equivalent to $1.04 in today's dollars. So yeah, this is more than doubling in a sense.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Stephen Bauman on Sun Apr 14 21:22:49 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Jackson Park B Train on Sun Apr 14 17:07:16 2019.

    The single counter example, Hong Kong, depends on lucrative real estate rents--imagine the MTA owning/collecting rents on essentially ALL of the office buildings along the major trunks.

    Here's a list of the farebox recovery ratios for most systems throughout the world. As you can see, you missed a few systems that have 100% farebox recovery ratios.

    One of these is London.

    Incidentally, the NYCBOT had farebox recovery ratios of 159% in 1941 and 142% in 1945 on the nickel fare.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Jackson Park B Train on Sun Apr 14 21:25:43 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Andrew Saucci on Sun Apr 14 19:59:18 2019.

    No, if you look at the income levels of workers in this country, the half century since I came of age has been a disaster. When I was growing up 86% of two adult families got by on a single salary; today that number is 6%. While I am fully supportive of womendoing something other than nanny/maid, in effect we have cut adult salaries by half forcing two FTE adults to support a family. In that context, the $7-$9 dollars per ride that are claimed by the transit agencies as the true cost is simply unsustainable for the working poor--who are statiscally the bulk of ridership.

    As to the idea that riders should pay "a good portion", I see public transit as analagous to fire, police, having sidewalks, as mark of civilisation. We do not expect to pay by the call to the police or fire services; we do not have toll booths on sidewalks or local streets (congestion charges not yet instituted IINM). Nor do we pay the direct electrical cost of the streetlights--they are part of the localcity or county services paid out of the general tax revenues.

    Given the economic disrup[tion which would occur if the full per ride cost were levied--drtastic ridership decline/decrease in the general economy as discretionary income disappears, I look at fares as purely a question of incentivizing or disincentivizing usage. I assume I don't need to explain that large cities muist have transit to remain functional.
    That said, what is the point of raising the fare rather than raising taxes on the overly rich who regularly fail to adequately contribute to the economy they skim the cream from?

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Jackson Park B Train on Sun Apr 14 21:46:33 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Stephen Bauman on Sun Apr 14 21:22:49 2019.

    So my clearly obsolete ## were in fact based on comments in Joel Garreau's Edge Cities. obviously, I do not contest the numbers you reference, although I wonder if the bulk of the Asian systems showing profit follow the HK model of real estate support.
    As to WWII (1945) gas rationing, tire rationing, full employment--my mother for instance had both a day job and an evening job are why nearly every transit operation in the US set records back then. She was required to commute all the way home from the day job and then back to the evening office although they were 4-5 blocks apart--War Dept orders. Point is she ended up doubling her presence in the statistics.
    BTW, Caltrain the rail line from SF south to San Jose, overtook its
    WWII rider records a decade or so back--Sillicon Valley employees living in SF giving them a nearly perfectly balanced commuter market so essentially no deadhead runs.

    Notwithstanding the potential for break even or profit, my ideological belief is that high fares are wrong.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Spider-Pig on Sun Apr 14 23:52:42 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Jackson Park B Train on Sun Apr 14 21:25:43 2019.

    I do not agree with your analogy, but you know that.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Jackson Park B Train on Mon Apr 15 02:03:03 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Spider-Pig on Sun Apr 14 23:52:42 2019.

    so, in between counting rivets and weld seams, we can politely disagree and the trains (we hope) continue to run.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Spider-Pig on Mon Apr 15 06:46:06 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Jackson Park B Train on Mon Apr 15 02:03:03 2019.

    Except that I think that the trains will run better if the fare covers the operating costs, with subsidies only for capital improvements.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Olog-hai on Mon Apr 15 06:49:46 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Andrew Saucci on Sat Apr 13 13:07:14 2019.

    No, because the IND solely existed to help facilitate a city takeover of its "rivals" and the "Second System" was purely on paper.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Elkeeper on Mon Apr 15 08:56:30 2019, in response to Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Joe on Sat Apr 13 12:18:31 2019.

    What were the fares in other cities at the time?

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Jackson Park B Train on Mon Apr 15 09:28:47 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Spider-Pig on Mon Apr 15 06:46:06 2019.

    Not sure there is any proof of that.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Spider-Pig on Mon Apr 15 09:31:18 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Jackson Park B Train on Mon Apr 15 09:28:47 2019.

    Proof of what?

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by randyo on Mon Apr 15 14:36:34 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Joe on Sun Apr 14 14:28:27 2019.

    I believe that the transfer between the BMT and IRT at T/sq was due to the service change giving the Astoria Line to the BMT and the Flushing Line to the IRT. That enabled BMT Flushing passengers to board empty Flushing trains at T/Sq instead of squeezing into already crowded trainbs at Qnsbro Plz.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by randyo on Mon Apr 15 14:45:40 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Jackson Park B Train on Sun Apr 14 21:25:43 2019.

    The difference between mass transit and police/fire/sanitation is that even though most people use the transit system, it is still an optional service since people can use other means to get where they need to go such as taxi, personal autos or even walking, whereas govít run police and fire services are really the only sources of those forms of public services.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by randyo on Mon Apr 15 14:53:16 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Jackson Park B Train on Sun Apr 14 21:46:33 2019.

    I canít see why the War Dept would require a person to commute home and back between jobs. In the first place, such commutation would cause an unnecessary use of fuel resources which were limited at the time. Second why would the War Dept want to know how a person went to work unless they used their personal autos and had to make use of gas rationing coupons. Third, how would the War Dept even know if anyone was commuting home between jobs or not since most local transit agencies didnít keep records of who traveled where so it would be functionally unenforceable.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by randyo on Mon Apr 15 14:58:27 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Andrew Saucci on Sat Apr 13 13:07:14 2019.

    Some if the IND Second System was designed to compete with the existing lines of the privates in order to drive them out of business and once the city took them over, their money was now going into city coffers so there was no longer any need to spend money on duplicate projects. I have often mentioned that if the entire Fulton St el had been rebuilt to dual contract standards, the cit probably could have figured out a way to build a portal somewhere in the vicinity of downtown Bkln and connected the IND to it at that point instead of where it was done.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Jackson Park B Train on Mon Apr 15 17:13:06 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Spider-Pig on Mon Apr 15 09:31:18 2019.

    "trains will run better if the fare covers the operating costs"

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Andrew Saucci on Mon Apr 15 17:20:55 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by randyo on Mon Apr 15 14:58:27 2019.

    That's a good observation. Of course, perhaps the imaginations of transit planners might have conceived more useful things than duplicating IRT and BMT infrastructure if the money had been there.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Jackson Park B Train on Mon Apr 15 18:14:55 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by randyo on Mon Apr 15 14:53:16 2019.

    you are entitled to your doubts, but this is what I remember my mother telling me. As she died in 2010, can't confirm or get better detail. I can say it was all by public transitr, mainly streetcars as Capital Transit's Cabin John Line did have a stop albeit seriously downhill from Army Map. Walk up in the AM down in the PM. The two War Dept outfits were the Army Map Service and "Beach Erosion Bpoard" as I remember. The latter studied ocean beach details in order to pick the spots for the Allied landings.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Jackson Park B Train on Mon Apr 15 18:18:46 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by randyo on Mon Apr 15 14:45:40 2019.

    except of course for "volunteer" fire and ambulance "rescue squads". And, while there are FD ambulances, there are also private ambulance services which are not always available to all.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by randyo on Mon Apr 15 21:06:55 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Jackson Park B Train on Mon Apr 15 18:18:46 2019.

    However, in larger municipalities there are very few volunteer fire depts and volunteer ambulance services ar limited to outer neighborhoods leaving the bulk of those services to local govít agencies.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by randyo on Mon Apr 15 21:10:55 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Andrew Saucci on Mon Apr 15 17:20:55 2019.

    Remember that many of the lines that were operated by the IND were in the works as extensions of the privates, especially the BMT which Mayor Hylan wanted to ruin. If it were not for the mayorís vendetta, the existing lines of the privates would likely have been upgraded and the new lines that became IND and not in competition with BMT lines would have been part of the BMT.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by randyo on Mon Apr 15 21:17:06 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Jackson Park B Train on Mon Apr 15 18:14:55 2019.

    It could possibly be what she was told by some boss who was probably a gold mine of inaccurate information like some of the TA bosses I had to deal with.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Stephen Bauman on Tue Apr 16 05:35:21 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by randyo on Mon Apr 15 14:45:40 2019.

    govít run police and fire services are really the only sources of those forms of public services.

    There was a big push towards privatization a 20 years ago. There are for profit companies that provide fire services to towns. Rye Brook's experience demonstrated a few perils.

    Incidentally, fire departments are an outgrowth of insurance companies providing fire insurance. The insurance companies would fight fires on policy holders' property. There were many companies competing for policy holders within the same geographic area. That system did not work in the 19th century.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Jackson Park B Train on Tue Apr 16 10:10:15 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Stephen Bauman on Tue Apr 16 05:35:21 2019.

    check out Crassus a fellow triumvir of J Caesar. An early practioner of fighting fires only if paid. (hint, why we have the term crass)
    You are correct about the drive to privatize--part of the Libertarian Party efforts to obliterate government going much further back.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by BrooklynBus on Thu Apr 18 11:55:23 2019, in response to Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Joe on Sat Apr 13 12:18:31 2019.

    I wonder how long the 7 cent bus and trolley fare or the 12 cent combined transfer at selected points lasted. Was it discontinued before the fare was raised again to 15 cents?

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Joe on Thu Apr 18 13:44:53 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by BrooklynBus on Thu Apr 18 11:55:23 2019.

    In the summer of 1950 or so, I traveled around the subway system putting two pennies in the transfer vending machines, then catching another train to the next station with a transfer vending machine. I amassed a scrap book, which crumbled. Once, someplace on the Jamaica el, a change agent yelled that buying a transfer and not exiting was forbidden. I distributed many of the transfers (movie ticket size) at an E.R.A. meeting in the Hotel Roosevelt. A union objected to drivers selling transfers to the subway, so some buses carried machines vending the bus-to-subway transfers for a nickel. Within a few years, maybe four or five after 1948, the system was abolished to increase Board of Transportation revenue and cut abuse, namely people selling transfers or dropping any scrap of paper in the hopper at the subway station. Decades later, it was resurrected with the Metrocard and the two-fare zones (Riverdale, Throgs Neck, Whitestone, Laurelton, etc.) became one-fare zones.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Marc A. Rivlin on Thu Apr 18 15:36:25 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Stephen Bauman on Sun Apr 14 21:22:49 2019.

    I am curious the degree to which these recovery figures are comparing the same expenses. My understanding is that the three highest expenses on the MTA's operating budget after wages and salaries are employee and retiree healthcare costs, pensions, and debt service. First, in the US, transit systems are responsible for all or part of their employees' healthcare costs and a portion of their retirees healthcare costs. Systems in countries with national healthcare systems do not have these expenses. Are both employee and retiree healthcare costs included in operating expenses? Second, pension systems vary between systems and across nations. I'm guessing that pension contributions are considered part of operating expenses. And, third, is debt service paid by the agency included in the operating expenses calculation and therefore in the recovery calculation? Again, as capital funding varies across agencies and countries (e.g.: operating agency vs. a separately funded construction agency or public authority vs. another part of government), this could also greatly affect farebox recovery calculations, as would the fact that healthcare costs for employees of contractors, manufacturers, etc in the US contributes to capital costs and would increase debt service.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Jackson Park B Train on Thu Apr 18 19:48:50 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Marc A. Rivlin on Thu Apr 18 15:36:25 2019.

    thanks for making those points.

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    Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948

    Posted by Stephen Bauman on Fri Apr 19 04:45:08 2019, in response to Re: Doubling the subway fare in 1948, posted by Marc A. Rivlin on Thu Apr 18 15:36:25 2019.

    I am curious the degree to which these recovery figures are comparing the same expenses

    It's certainly a valid question. It's also a very difficult question to answer when comparing foreign vs. domestic systems. At least the NTD provides a common basis for comparison among US providers.

    First, in the US, transit systems are responsible for all or part of their employees' healthcare costs and a portion of their retirees healthcare costs. Systems in countries with national healthcare systems do not have these expenses. Are both employee and retiree healthcare costs included in operating expenses? Second, pension systems vary between systems and across nations. I'm guessing that pension contributions are considered part of operating expenses.

    The NTD tables separate actual wages and fringe benefits. They are roughly the equal. Both are included in the operating cost total. The doubling of wages to get the burdened cost of an employee is fairly standard practice for most industries. I don't know what the rule of thumb is outside the US.

    Wages and fringe benefits account for roughly 83% of operating expenses for NYCT subway operations.

    And, third, is debt service paid by the agency included in the operating expenses calculation and therefore in the recovery calculation?

    Debt service is not included in operating expenses, insofar as data derived from the NTD tables.

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