Subway Fare Hikes Could Be on Tap Next Year

Albany giveth, Albany takes away

By Victoria Cavaliere
|  Monday, Oct 19, 2009  |  Updated 2:45 PM EDT
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Subway Fare Hikes Could Be on Tap Next Year

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The subway situation could get scary in the next few months

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.

“The money has to come from someplace,”  said William Henderson, executive director of the authority’s Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee.

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.

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