The MTA board has unanimously voted to hike subway and bus fares to buoy the cash-strapped agency, making it the third time in three years that New Yorkers will have to pay more to commute.

The board voted Wednesday to raise tickets for a single bus or subway ride by 25 cents to $2.50. A monthly MetroCard pass will cost $112, up nearly 8 percent from the previous price of $104. The increases are scheduled to take effect March 1.

Bridge tolls on several major crossings will increase by 50 cents for EZPass users and by $1 for drivers who pay cash. A discount is expected to be implemented for Staten Island residents.

The increases are expected to bring in an additional $450 million a year for the MTA, which was struggling to close its budget deficit even before Sandy caused $5 billion in damage to the system.

Board member Andrew Albert called the hike “the best of a bad lot” of options.

Several board members expressed reluctance to support the fare hikes, but voted in favor of them.

MTA Chairman and CEO Joe Lhota said the fare hike was “part of a deal struck in 2009.” Transit sources told NBC 4 New York earlier this week that Lhota plans to resign Friday as MTA chair, a post he held for less than a year, and announce his candidacy for mayor of New York City.

He was widely praised for quickly getting the transit system back on track following unprecedented devastation from Sandy and had previously been endorsed as a possible candidate by former mayor Rudy Giuliani. A registered Republican, Lhota served as Giuliani’s budget director, finance commissioner and deputy mayor for operations before moving to the private sector.

Source: NBC 4 NY

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