Double the MTA doom
The MTA may be on a one-way track to a financial nightmare.
The cash-strapped agency could be facing a $1 billion budget gap next year that could balloon to $2.1 billion in 2014, according to a report by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
A fare hike is already on tap for January, 18 months since the last increase and six months since the MTA enacted its “doomsday” service cuts.
“Where’d the money go?” asked Astoria rider Mig McFarlen, 33, when told about the report.
This year’s budget gap is about $900 million. DiNapoli’s office said more than $296 million could have been saved last year alone.
“The MTA needs to change the way it does business,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Repeated fare hikes and service cuts can’t change a culture of complacency.”
Some MTA officials weren’t surprised about the report’s findings.
“We need to do better in areas that concern the public,” said MTA Board Member Norman Seabrook.
Seabrook added that the agency could save money by actually increasing service to boost ridership.
MTA officials, which the report called “inefficient and bloated,” said at a board meeting yesterday they’ve followed through on reducing the budget, slicing overtime by $54 million.
Other administrative cuts could save $525 million each year, starting in 2011.
Gene Russianoff, of the Straphangers Campaign, fears the budget gap will again fall on riders.
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz wouldn’t address the predicted $2.1 billion budget gap, but said the agency is trying to keep spending down.
“There are always external threats to our budget but there should be no question on our commitment to meet our internal cost reduction targets,” Ortiz said. (with Heidi Lee)