MTA deficit flirts with $2B as prospect grows for even more fare hikes and service cuts
The MTA is in an even deeper hole than everyone feared.
The agency's deficit has ballooned by as much as $700 million this year,
possibly pushing the total to $1.9 billion, sources close to the MTA said.
So even if an Albany bailout comes through, straphangers could still be
dealt painful service cuts and even another fare hike beside the increased
"Things are going to get worse, because the economy is worse," said Gene Russianoff, of the Straphangers Campaign.
Straphangers recoiled at the news.
"It sucks," said Courtney Gordinier, 27, of the Meatpacking District, when
asked about the upcoming hike and the prospects of another. "I'd rather
take the bus to work, but I'm going to bust out my bike."The agency is putting through a fare increase of up to 30 percent and dozens
of service cuts, assuming Albany doesn't come up with new cash. Those
measures, however, were sketched out to fill a smaller budget gap of $1.2
Aaron Donovan, an MTA spokesman, declined to confirm the amount on the
deficit, but said officials will discuss ways to fill the additional hole
during its full board meeting next Wednesday.
But an internal memo sent by agency chief Elliot Sander Tuesday alluded to
the MTA's grim financial outlook
"We expect to forecast our revenues and preliminary indications are
certainly not encouraging," Sander wrote to agency heads and board members.
The fare increase, that will push the cost of a monthly MetroCard to $103,
is slated to roll out May 31.
"Of course it's going to impact me," said Sasha Rodriguez, 21, of Washington
Heights. "We don't get paid enough to raise the buses or trains."
Workers are making "progress" toward reprogramming fare boxes, MetroCard
machines and turnstiles, New York City Transit spokesman Paul Fleuranges
Meanwhile, Albany's efforts to rescue the MTA continued to meander yesterday
as the Senate hunted for 32 votes for its proposal. The latest plan would
generate $1.76 billion through an 8 percent fare increase, $1 taxi surcharge
and three new motor vehicle fees.
"The transit system is on the precipice," said Neysa Pranger, spokeswoman for
the Regional Plan Association, an advocacy group. "If Albany can't act,
we're looking at a shrunken transit system [and] ever rising fares."
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) gave the plan his blessing yesterday,
according to a published report. But even it clears the Senate, money earned
from the proposal wouldnÂ¹t cover the new deficit.
"In the state with the most transit users, it's an abomination that that we
should be going through this," said Andrew Albert, a nonvoting MTA board
The MTA will officially announce the deficit during the board's finance
committee meeting Monday. Officials had previously said that the MTA is $323
million behind in state and real estate taxes this year.
"The finance committee will not be pretty," Russianoff said.
In his memo, Sander directed agency chiefs to impose a "hard freeze" on
spending, including no new hiring or overtime. Purchases and contractors
must also be sharply curtailed, Sanders wrote.