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New York to Slash Transit Service, Student Passes

December 16, 2009

This story on the MTA’s cuts, which we’ve been following here at Atlas, will be in Friday’s Wall Street Journal:

The decision by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority to sharply cut services to close a nearly $383 million deficit is the latest sign that the state will operate under harsh fiscal constraints in the coming year.

The proposed cuts, which would include shutting down two subway lines and slashing night and weekend hours on a system that operates around the clock, will be aired at several public hearings this winter. A final vote is planned in the spring by the board of the MTA, which manages transit systems in New York City and surrounding areas, including Long Island.

The measures are the latest sign of the fiscal woes in states across the country. The MTA said it must shrink service because New York lawmakers, facing a budget deficit, slashed annual subsidies to the MTA by $143 million. In addition, a recent court ruling ordered the authority to pay $541 million in wage increases to unionized workers over three years, according to an MTA spokesman.

In recent weeks, New York Gov. David Paterson has urged state lawmakers to close a current-year budget gap of $3.2 billion. “We have no money at the moment. We have delayed payments across the board,” said Marissa Shorenstein, a spokeswoman for the governor.

The MTA chairman said the authority must share the blame. “In the two months that I’ve been here, it has become apparent to me that the MTA doesn’t operate in a way that ensures that every single dollar we receive is being used as effectively as possible,” said Jay Walder, chairman since September, at Wednesday’s board meeting. “We must rethink every aspect of our operation to permanently reduce the cost of running this system.”

The transit cuts come months after the MTA faced a budget shortfall last spring and proposed drastically reducing service, only to receive an 11th-hour bailout from the state. But the measures meant to generate money — a payroll tax and sales tax dedicated to the transit budget — fell short by $149 million in projected revenues, an MTA spokesman said.

The MTA’s finances suffered more strain last week, when a state court ruled the MTA could not delay large raises to its unionized work force, starting with the first payout of $91 million in 2010.

The MTA’s plan also calls for laying off 700 workers, reducing management salaries and phasing out free and discounted fares for students, which has sparked widespread opposition. The latter proposal would eventually save the MTA $170 million annually, a spokesman said. No fare increase was called for. A 7.5% fare increase is scheduled for 2011, on top of a roughly 10% rise earlier this year.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, speaking to reporters Wednesday, said the city’s four representatives on the transit board would vote for the budget “because we really don’t have any alternative.”

Gene Russianoff, a lawyer for a riders’ advocacy group, the Straphangers Campaign, urged the MTA to instead close its deficit with $91 million in federal stimulus monies. The stimulus funds have been committed to repairs and maintenance, said Kevin Ortiz, an MTA spokesman.


From The Wall Street Journal.

  1. Young Republican permalink
    December 18, 2009 2:03 am

    Can someone explain how a company with 11 million passengers a day is loosing money?
    The “shareholders” i.e. the tax payers (who have to end up bailing out the MTA) have no say about how the MTA operates, the board is answerable to who? and how much power does organised labor over such decisions?
    I’m sick of hearing people push the problem around to Albany, to Washington, don’t people realize that it’s all the same money? When will people realize that if you borrow money from your right pocket to bail out your left pocket you haven’t really solved any problems.

  2. Rico Tattaglia permalink
    December 18, 2009 10:24 am

    Emergency Petition to the MTA: Stop the Cuts!

    “The MTA should use its available funds, not cut services millions of New Yorkers depend on.”

    • Young Republican permalink
      December 18, 2009 2:01 pm

      There is no question that something is wrong at the MTA, and something must be done. The Working Families Party wants to ignore the problems and push it off so it will fall on the backs of hard working taxpayers. What we should be demanding is not to simply stop the cuts, but rather are these decisions being made based on economic factors or political factors?

      We should be demanding reform at the MTA board. The members must be answerable to those that their decision affects. They should either be elected or be directly appointed by county heads of the 14 counties the MTA services, and be confirmed by the local county legislators instead of the governor and the senate doing this. If the people choose to elect members who drive the MTA into the ground, than so be it. People must be responsible for their actions; we can’t have Albany bail us out every time we make bad choices.

      In addition, organized labor should not be given special representation on the board, and members’ pay should be directly related to the performance of the MTA.

  3. Gerry permalink
    December 18, 2009 10:32 am

    Is the Brooklyn GOP taking a stand on this issue? What, do we have to lead the horse to water?

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