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Rage brews over transit cuts as MTA vote looms

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, elected officials and parents protests the loss of discounted student MetroCards at a rally. (Photo by Heather Haddon)

Rage against sweeping transit cuts is ballooning, and expect it come to a boil Wednesday when the MTA decides on the painful “doomsday” proposals.

Board members are poised to vote on a 2010 budget this morning that would fill a nearly $400 million gap by enacting cuts that include:

- Eliminating the W and Z lines, and truncating the G and M

- Decreasing late night service and allowing for more subway crowding

- Ending 21 bus lines, stopping overnight service on 24 others and removing weekend schedules from 41 routes

The plan would also phase out discounted student MetroCards. Roughly 525,000 students receive the passes to travel to class and one after-school activity a day. The cards also allow thousands of children to visit city museums every year, and officials worry that the proposal will kill extracurricular activities.

“Are they going to walk?” asked Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan) at one of three protests held Tuesday over the cuts. “This pays for the tutoring, the karate, the soccer.”

Jazmin Vargas, a Bronx teacher, said two of her students were recently arrested for jumping turnstiles to get to school, and she worries that more low-income kids will do the same without the discount.

“This is unprecedented,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. “The MTA needs to sit down and come up with real proposals.”

City officials yesterday called for the MTA to tap stimulus funds instead of the cuts, but the money has already been forked over for big improvement contracts, the agency said. 

If adopted, the MTA must hold public hearings before beginning to phase in the cuts around July.

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