MTA's 2010 Budget Threatens Drastic Service Cuts

The MTA has released his final proposed budget for 2010, and it includes sweeping service cuts, payroll cuts and the elimination of student discounts to close a nearly $400 million gap.

The recommendations from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board's finance committee will be presented to the full MTA board when it meets on Wednesday to vote on the 2010 budget.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has pledged it won't raise fares next year, but has already said that service on the W and Z lines will have to go. 

The massive service cuts will also mean fewer subways and buses late night and on weekends. 

"We're grappling with the loss of nearly $400 million virtually overnight," said MTA Chairman Jay Walder. "I wish I could tell you that losing this amount of money in this amount of time does not have painful consequences. Unfortunately I can't."

The budget also states that service reductions adopted in 2008 but never instated will be implemented, including the elimination of the Rockaway/Broad Channel residents' rebate program.

Also proposed are "administrative savings" that cut10 percent of payroll expense through furloughs, "pay lag" and other measures to be identified before April.

On Friday, a court ruled in support of an 11.5 percent pay increase over three years for the transit workers' union. The wage hikes will add about $300 million in labor costs through 2011, the MTA said. Their impact is already included in the MTA's 2010 budget considerations.

And student discounts will be cut in half by September 2010 and completely terminated by 2011. Officials are also looking at ways to cut paratransit costs.

The MTA was surprised by a $383 million gap in its $11 billion budget over the past few weeks as a result of state funding cuts and lower than expected tax revenues.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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