Gov. David Paterson's call for "painful" state budget cuts over the next two years could also mean another fare hike for straphangers far sooner than expected.
Paterson has called for a total of $5 billion to be slashed from the state budget -- with $113 million coming from the coffers of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority -- an agency that already received a state bailout earlier this year.
The governor’s cuts need legislative approval before becoming a reality, but any loss of financing means cuts, and the authority would have to choose from a limited list of options -- among those service, cleanliness and personnel. Or a combination of those with about a 2 percent fare hike.
Fare increases may be the least likely option, the New York Times reported. In July, the authority announced a budget with no fare increases in 2010, a reprieve that seemed too-good-to-be-true after months of threats about a doomsday budget and a last minute bailout from Albany.
Still, fare increases of 7.5 percent are planned for 2011 and 2013, so a sudden loss of financing could spur an accelerated schedule.
To make up a $100 million shortfall, the authority would have to raise fares again by roughly 2 percent, assuming no other cost-saving measures. That after fares and tolls rose about 10 percent this summer.
Overnight closing of four downtown stations on the N line would save $390,000; eliminating the W train would save $3 million; and closing the Z line and shortening the M would save $2.4 million, the MTA projected.
What then, comes of promised service improvement on the F Train, which recently received a failing grade in an MTA report?
The Times said cleanliness -- or a further lack thereof -- might be the real result of the budget cuts.