Three days ago I responded to a comment left by one of my regular readers Abba. She asked if I felt service cuts would happen. I responded by saying “If I had to give a percentage on the chance of service cuts, I would say 5% as of this message.” Unfortunately after yesterday’s special meeting of the MTA Finance Committee, I was way off with the percentage I stated. As I discussed yesterday afternoon, the MTA announced at the meeting that their budget deficit ballooned up to $1.2 billion dollars. Later in the evening both the New York Daily News & New York Times filed reports on the meeting & looming service cuts. Lets start with Pete Donohue’s report for the New York Daily News:
Straphangers will suffer a “Draconian” array of double-digit fare hikes and service cuts next year unless the state helps rescue the MTA, officials warned Monday.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials wouldn’t release details of a still-developing doomsday budget plan, but sources said bus riders – particularly on express routes – would likely see the biggest cuts.
Subway riders would see fewer trains, especially on lines with parallel service, such as the Broadway line in Manhattan, where N, R and W trains run, sources said.
Layoffs also are on the table, officials said.
“The word ‘Draconian’ is not inappropriate,” MTA CEO Elliot Sander said.
The projected 2009 MTA budget gap has ballooned by $300 million, to $1.2 billion, officials announced at the meeting.
Click here for the complete report.
Now lets look at William Neuman’s report for the New York Times:
Plummeting real estate and corporate tax collections will cause the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s budget gap to balloon next year to a projected $1.2 billion, making it increasingly likely that there would be deep service cuts and a fare increase of more than 8 percent, officials said Monday.
“The word draconian is not inappropriate,” the authority’s chief executive, Elliot G. Sander, said on Monday, when asked about the potential service cuts. Mr. Sander spoke after a special meeting of the finance committee of the authority’s board, which was called to discuss the worsening budget picture.
“I think that they will be very, very significant,” Mr. Sander said of the cuts. “Whatever that mix that we come up with, in terms of fare and toll increases or service reductions, there is no question they would have an impact, significantly, on our customers and on the functioning of our region.”
Mr. Sander provided no details of the service changes that he was contemplating; he said he would discuss specific cuts at a meeting of the authority’s full board on Nov. 20.
After the authority revealed its preliminary 2009 budget proposal in July, the authority’s operations heads were asked to make suggestions for spending cuts of up to 4.7 percent, which officials said would almost certainly include severe reductions in service. Since then, the deficit projection has grown by $300 million, and Mr. Sander said on Monday that he has now asked those operations heads to propose even deeper cuts in their budgets. He refused to say how much more they were asked to trim.
The authority’s original budget plan called for a series of measures intended to close what it predicted then as a $900 million gap.
Those included more than $200 million in additional aid from the state and the city, which Mr. Sander acknowledged on Monday would not be forthcoming because the state and the city were also facing deep budget cuts.
The preliminary budget also called for an 8 percent increase in fare and toll revenues, starting in July, which would generate an additional $200 million.
Click here for the complete report.
Well the news just doesn’t get better for the MTA or the riding public. What can only be seen as comical in a non amusing way, the additional $200 million that was to be generated from the original projected 8% fare increase will turn out to not be additional money. Due to the budget deficits that the city & state face, the MTA expects to not received the promised contribution of you guessed it, $200 million dollars.
If this meeting did not throw a bucket of cold water on our government to realize that they need to find a way to help the MTA, I don’t think anything will. The sad thing is if things continue at this pace, our transit infrastructure will start to fall apart & go back to the dark days of the system. When elected officials scratch their end wondering what happened, they could look back at the numerous warnings that were out there from this blog to the MTA leadership & everything in between.
xoxo Transit Blogger