MTA budget relies on straphanger, union bailouts
The MTA is definitely counting on taking more out of riders' pockets.
The cash-strapped agency's board gave officials the green light Wednesday to hold public hearings later this year for a 7.5% fare hike to be enacted in March, 2013.
The MTA unveiled its updated budget Wednesday, which covers 2012 through 2016. Even with the expected 2013 and 2015 fare hikes, internal cost cutting and a hope workers could be convinced to keep salaries as they are for three years, the agency still expects a $374 million budget gap through 2016.
MTA Chief Financial Officer Robert Foran called the three-year union deal, expected to save $1.3 billion by 2016, "critical," and Chairman Joseph Lhota said assuming the concessions was probably the budget's "No. 1 risk."
Lhota said talks with TWU President John Samuelsen were "inching forward," and that he hoped to complete a new contract by year's end.
Samuelsen rejected the MTA's stance that it needed more money from its workers and riders, saying the MTA should try to renegotiate its interest rate deals with the banks that lend it money to cut costs.
"They have no problem banging their own workers and banging New York City transit riders for dough, for money, but they don't want to go after the banks," Samuelsen said Wednesday. "The banks are profiting wildly off the MTA."
MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said the agency disagrees with Samuelsen's view of its lenders.
"The union fundamentally misunderstands the nature of these transactions and how they work," Lisberg said, adding that the transactions "are working as designed" and save the agency money.