This is gonna hurt: MTA unveils the budget pain, and no punch is pulled
As early as June, riders could see a subway fare hike to $2.50 and harsh service cuts that would cram already crowded trains.
The grim future facing subway riders was part of the 2009 budget the MTA presented at its board meeting on Thursday, provoking fevered opposition from some in the audience.
We cannot simply announce proposals today that says to people barely making it were going to sink you, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said in the public comment period.Other parts of the MTA plan to close a $1.2 billion budget gap next year include:
- Increasing fares on express buses from $5 to $7.50 and on Access-A-Ride from $2 to $4
- Reducing service for about 15 subway lines and eliminating the Z and W lines
- Making more than 130 changes to bus service, including slashing entire routes
The MTA also reiterated its intention to increase fares again in 2011 by 5 percent.
With less funding from the city and state governments and tanking real estate and tax revenues during a tough economy, MTA officials said they had to make tough decisions to keep the system from sliding back to the disrepair of the 1970s.
MTA Board Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger stressed that the federal government needs to invest in mass transit and Albany needs to accept recommendations from the Ravitch Commission a governor-appointed body charged with finding new funding for the agency if there is any hope of easing the budget crunch.
Gene Russianoff, the Straphangers Campaign staff attorney, noted that with next years proposed fare hike, riders would be paying more than 80 percent of the cost to
run the subways.
Its just plain unfair, he said. Around the world, transit is subsidized.