MTA annouces "beyond doomsday" scenario for straphangers
Members of the Facebook group "1,000,000 People Against the NYC MTA Fare Hike" protest in Union Square Tuesday.
(Photo courtesy Transportation Alternatives)
By Heather Haddon
Imagine no late night subways in New York City.
That scenario once seemed impossible in the city that doesnt sleep may be an option now that the MTAs finances have gotten so bad.
Nothing is off the table, MTA chief Elliot Sander said yesterday after the agency board meeting.
Facing a $2.8 billion deficit by 2010, Sander said that the agency is forced to consider a second round of fare hikes, service cuts and layoffs to implement this year that are beyond doomsday.
They are just unbelievably difficult and I think some would view them as horrific, Sander said.
Off-peak service and routes outside the core of Manhattan are especially vulnerable, according to a source close to the agency. And while ending overnight subway service is a possibility, Sander said he thought it wouldnt save much money.With service already about to be scaled back and a fare hike on tap for May 31, the MTA is still pinning its hopes on Albany to deliver a bailout that would stall another drastic batch of cuts.
The time for action has come, MTA board chair Dale Hemmerdinger said. At this point today, there is no tomorrow. There is no next week, there is no next month.
MTA officials characterized any further cuts as especially painful since the agency will already be eliminating or reducing service on five subway lines and dozens of bus routes to save $1.2 billion this year.
Im pissed, said Noam Tidhar, 35, an Upper West Side straphanger. People are angry and furious about the first fare hike, let alone a second one.
It would be the first time in MTA history that the agency increased fares twice in a year.
With a sense of urgency, the MTA board yesterday unanimously agreed to adopt an 18-month budget in order to speed up voting on cost reduction measures by six months to this June. Agency officials argue that the sagging economy has continued to slash their revenues from taxes and toll and fare collections, leaving them with few options.
This is the start of a serious shrinkage of the transit system, said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign, an advocacy group.
Meanwhile, in Albany yesterday, Gov. David Paterson said he had a new idea for a MTA bailout that could pass the Legislature, but he wouldnt divulge any details. The Senate is expected to vote on a bill next week that includes an 8 percent fare hike, payroll tax and a $1 surcharge on taxis.
Newsday contributed to this report
Effective dates for doomsday cuts and fare increases:
May 31 - Fares increase up to 30 percent
June 28 - Dozens of bus routes eliminated or scaled back
July 26 - Station clerks yanked from 158 locations
Late Fall - Five subway lines closed or reduced
Timeline for second round of reductions:
May 27 - Outline proposal for service cuts or fare hikes
June 30 - MTA board vote on the plan
As soon as summer - Hold public hearings
As early as fall - Implement service cuts or fare increases