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MTA needs Albany to avoid 'fiscal disaster,' report warns

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Another round of draconian fare hikes and service cuts are in store for riders if the MTA doesn’t raise revenue and slash its ballooning debt, according to a critical report released Thursday.

Estimating the MTA’s debt at $31 billion, the report by the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy and Transportation Alternatives warned the agency needs help from Albany to avert a “fiscal disaster.”

MTA board member Andrew Albert didn’t dispute the findings, but said he’s encouraged by MTA Chairman Jay Walder’s comments this month that additional service cuts are off the table.

Still, “I’m alarmed that it’s gotten to that point,” he said of the MTA’s debt payments, which are estimated to jump more than 16 percent to $2.1 billion next year. “It’s a ticking time bomb.”

The state stopped contributing to the MTA’s capital budget in 1992, and the report suggested it should restore 20 percent of that funding. It also suggested that the legislature and governor return the $160 million diverted from MTA funds to balance the state’s budget in 2009 and vow not to raid the agency again.

An MTA spokesman declined to comment on the report.

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