Yesterday morning I wrote about Gov. Cuomo’s delusional fantasy world where taking money from the MTA would keep fares & services at current levels. Hours after my entry, he revealed his budget plan & as expected contains a huge blow to the MTA.
Gov. Cuomo would ax $100M from the MTA’s budget. Andrew Grossman of the Wall Street Journal has more in this report:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority would see a $100 million cut to its $11.3 billion 2011 operating budget under the financial plan released Tuesday by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the agency said. It vowed to fill that gap without service cuts or fare hikes.
“Finding an additional $100 million in 2011 will be very painful, especially with sizable deficits still projected for 2012 and 2014. As we continue cost-cutting, further reductions become harder and harder to achieve,” the agency said in a statement. “But we must fill this gap, and we will fill it without resorting to fare and toll increases or service cuts, because our riders have already been hit with these painful measures over the past year.”
The MTA said it would “find additional cost-savings through efficiencies and improved productivity.”
The governor’s proposed cuts start anew the cost-cutting process that occupied senior MTA management for much of 2010. The agency filled an $800 million gap last year with a mix of service reductions and administrative cost-cutting.
The MTA had been expecting a small surplus in 2011, on the heels of a net 7.5% fare increase that went into effect Dec. 30. Another increase of the same size is scheduled for 2013. Still, the agency was already facing a $207 million gap for 2012.
The cuts in Cuomo’s proposed budget come from a diversion of dedicated tax revenue to the state’s general fund. Most of that money will pay debt service on bonds issued by the state for the MTA, but some would go toward other spending.
“We generally think it’s good news for transit riders,” said Gene Russianoff, a staff lawyer with the Straphangers Campaign, a subway-rider advocacy group. Still he said, “We’re not happy that they’re diverting money from an account that’s supposed to go to transit needs.”
Click here for the complete report.
Shortly after the budget was released, the MTA issued a statement which focused on how they had no intention to raise fares or cut services to help fill the gap. The Straphangers Campaign as noted above found this to be good news for riders.
The statement did contain good news, one has to wonder how realistic is their sentiment? While the MTA has no plans for actions that would burden riders further, how long can they plug the hole before no other alternative besides fare hikes & service cuts hit the table?
In terms of the stances taken since the budget plan release, I agree 100% with Transportation Alternatives who had this to say:
In his executive budget released today, Governor Cuomo has proposed taking $100 million in dedicated transit funds from transit riders. The MTA has pledged not to raise fares or cut bus and subway service, but with $100 million less in state funding, something has to give.
“Governor Cuomo campaigned on restoring honesty and ethics to Albany, but when it comes to transit nothing much has changed,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “Cuomo is taking dedicated funds away from the riders.”
In 2010, transit riders lost two subway lines and 37 bus routes thanks to Governor Paterson’s theft of $160 million in dedicated transit funding. Riders are now anxiously awaiting the MTA’s response to Cuomo’s diversion of dedicated funds. The proposed reductions could translate into fewer trains and buses, longer waits, less frequent station cleanings and deferred maintenance, among other inconveniences.
I understand that the state is facing severe economic challenges. However why should transit riders have to once again bare the brunt of the pain? Why is it every time a fiscal crisis occurs, one of the initial solutions is to plug it with money that is meant for transit?
I am urging all of my readers to join the Transportation Alternatives call to action which you can participate in by visiting http://riderrebellion.org
It will be interesting to see how the MTA balances this latest round of bad news & in turn how it will play out for riders. Stay tuned…………..
xoxo Transit Blogger