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MTA board votes down plan to return slashed service



Straphangers won't be getting any surprise gifts from the MTA this Christmas.

The cash-strapped agency's board passed on a proposal Monday to undo some of the massive service cuts it made last year, axing dozens of bus routes and two subway lines to save $93 million.

Mitch Pally was one of two board members to introduce an amendment to the agency's budget that would have restored some of those cuts by reallocating $20 million.

It was slapped down by a 7-2 vote.

"If we don't do it now, we will most likely never be able to do it - at least in the next five to six years," Pally told amNewYork after the plan was squashed. He vowed to raise the issue again next year.

"We can afford it now," Pally said. "It's a question of prioritization."

But Andrew Saul, acting chairman and head of the finance committee, said it was "a disastrous time" for the agency to be spending more.

"This can always be looked at in the future, and I think it should be looked at in the future," Saul said before calling a vote. "But at this moment, with this budget and what's happened, it would just be suicidal were we to add service."

Bill Henderson of the MTA's Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee said the money could have been used to help improve some of the "really egregious impacts" of the service cuts to riders.

"Some people ended up with no service a reasonable distance from their home or their place of work," Henderson said. "You have to take care of the customers first. You have to take care of the riders first."

Non-voting board member Andrew Albert said the extra funding would be "a drop in the bucket" in the MTA's $12.6 billion budget, and made the board look like a bunch of Scrooges.

"People have a tendency to hate the MTA," Albert said. "If they got a little something back for their next three fare increases, I don't think that's too much to ask."

Follow reporter Marc Beja on Twitter: @marc_beja

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