Doomsday cuts are back on the table as MTA budgetary woes balloon

 

“Doomsday” may be back again for strapahngers.

With the agency’s budget gap possibly hitting a shocking $615 million next year, officials are expected to propose a brutal round of service cuts Monday, including the death of discounted student fares.

“It’s a perfect storm. The whole thing is just unbelievable,” said Andrew Albert, a MTA board member.

The MTA will vote Wednesday on the cuts which will take effect next year if passed. The proposed cuts are even more servere than the “doomsday” plan averted earlier this year by the state bailout.

Over the course of a week, a state aid cut and poor performance from a payroll tax left the MTA with a $343 million budgetary gap. But the financial disaster could be messier, as state lawmakers are looking repeat the funding cut in next year’s budget, a transit source said.
Complicating matters, a judge ruled Friday that the MTA needs to give transit workers 11 percent raises, adding a $100 million tab for next year.

“Everything that has gone wrong, has gone wrong,” said Mitchell Pally, a MTA board member.

MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin declined to comment on the possibility of more state-funding cuts.  The MTA must balance its 2010 budget next week, and officials continued to cobble together a package of cuts yesterday, Soffin said. Proposals are likely to include:

-    Yanking the W and Z lines, cutting sections of the G and M lines and scaling back service on dozens of bus routes. Four stations in lower Manhattan would be closed, and trains would only arrive every half hour from 2 to 5 a.m.

-    Making about 550,000 students pay half-price fares next year and full fares in 2011

-    Scaling back paratransit service

-    Applying 10 percent salary cuts to the MTA’s nonunion staff

If passed, the MTA would hold public hearings for the service cuts before activating them later next year. Usually, the hearings are held before such cuts are passed.

“Oh my God, why would they cut the M8?” said Kamonvan Poonyarat, 25, who rides a bus route on the chopping block. “So many people depend on this line.”

Eliminating the student discount incited public outcry when it was last considered in 1995, and pushing it through could be disastrous for state pols in an election year. A mayoral spokesman said they had “serious” concerns about the impact of the cut.

Phoebe Kingsak contributed to this story.


4: Subway lines terminated or shortened
21: Bus lines that would be eliminated
25: Bus routes that would lose overnight service
41: Bus lines that would lose weekend service
147,000: Straphangers who will have to wait longer for the train between 2 and 5 a.m.

Tags: mta , budget

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