Bad service cuts won't be enough to plug MTA's budgetary hole
Even draconian service cuts won’t cure the MTA’s budget woes, and officials are scratching their heads about what will.Agency officials are scrambling to make up for more than $340 million in state aid cuts and taxes that failed to come in as expected, and service cuts “are certainly on the table,” MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said. But doomsday subway and bus service cuts considered during last year’s financial crunch would save only around $90 million, according to agency materials. Those cuts included eliminating the W and Z trains, truncating the G line, decreasing off-peak subway service on weekdays and scrapping 24 bus routes. Officials must make up for the shortfall by next week’s vote on the agency’s 2010 budget. The MTA does not intend to raise fares next year, nor will it tap money from major infrastructure improvements, Soffin said. “I believe service cuts are coming down the pike. I don’t know how you fill this otherwise,” said Andrew Albert, a MTA board member. Still, allowing egregious service cuts during an election year would be political suicide, said Gene Russianoff, of the Straphangers Campaign. “I’m in no panic mode,” Russianoff said. Officials are investigating why receipts of the new payroll tax came in lower than state projections. There was some discrepancy yesterday about by exactly how much the calculation for the payrolld tax was off. The MTA reported a roughly $200 million shortfall, while the state budget office said the gap was $229 million.