The four-option scenario is a sign the authority is committed to some kind of fare hike, and a reminder that a host of economic uncertainties remain to be solved before the MTA can move forward with a single, concrete plan.
Two of the fare hike options call for the 23 percent fare hike included in the MTA's proposed budget for 2009. One of those options would raise the average fare from $2 to $2.50, representing an across-the-board increase.
The other 23 percent increase option would have riders who buy two or more fares at a time pay $2.25 per fare. But under this plan, single-ride fares would jump to $3. Additionally, the current 15 percent bonus included in pay-per-ride MetroCards of over $7 would be eliminated.
The other two options follow the state-sponsored Ravitch Commission's recommendation that fares increase by only 8 percent.
The first of these would raise fares to $2.25, and increase the bonuses included with pay-per-ride MetroCards of over $7.50 to 20 percent.
Under the second 8-percent plan, average fares would not rise from their current price of $2. Single-ride fares, and fares paid for in cash, would rise to $2.25. Pay-per-ride bonuses would be eliminated altogether.
Before the MTA decides on any one of these plans or variations, the authority will wait to see if it receives a financial bailout from the state. MTA officials have asked Albany lawmakers for a rescue package to help the authority slash its outstanding deficit.
If the state delivers emergency funding, MTA officials who released the budget in December said the authority would use the funds to reduce the fare hike as much as possible.
State lawmakers are expected to consider implementing the MTA financing recommendations suggested by the Ravitch Commission in a possible rescue package that could be passed before the next fiscal year begins on April 1.
The MTA board is scheduled to approve a final fare increase plan by March.