In my previous post, I opined on the potential deal between the MTA & lawmakers which would save Student MetroCards for at least a year. A few hours after my entry, the MTA sent me an official statement about this very topic:
The economic downturn has created a fiscal crisis for the State, City and the MTA. The MTA has been doing its part to lower costs by reducing administrative staff, renegotiating with our suppliers and working to reduce overtime. But these actions are not enough to close an $800 million budget shortfall, and we’ve been forced to make tough choices, like cutting service and eliminating free and discounted MetroCards for New York City students.
The MTA believes that school children should not have to pay to travel to school, but that funding this transportation is the responsibility of the State and City, as it is throughout the state. For the past few months we have worked closely with the Governor, Mayor and legislative leaders to address this issue. The City has held its contribution steady at $45 million, while the Governor and Legislature recognized the State’s role by restoring $25 million.
While we had hoped that the State and City would pay the total cost of this program, we recognize the very difficult financial environment for not only the State and City, but for the hundreds of thousands of families in New York City who frankly could not afford to pay the added cost of transit fares for school transportation. We heard loud and clear at our public hearings, in meetings with student leaders and in protests around the city, that charging students would have a life-changing impact on the ability of New Yorkers to receive a quality education.
In light of these unbearable impacts, the MTA has decided to abandon the proposal to charge students for travel to and from school. As a result, the budget deficit that we are facing will increase, but the alternative is worse. Further actions needed to close this gap will be addressed when our preliminary financial plan is released in July.
xoxo Transit Blogger