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State pledges to save student MetroCards, but service cuts still a reality

(Photo by Kathy Willens/AP)

State lawmakers pledged Thursday to keep discounted MetroCards for the city’s 525,000 students but said they were not as optimistic about preventing “doomsday” cuts to bus and subway service.

“We’re very confident that there’s going to be a good outcome,” Assemb. Richard Brodsky, (D–Westchester), said of keeping the student MetroCards, which the cash-strapped MTA is proposing to do away with to save $170 million. Brodsky added that the entire state leadership would be “pushing” to restore funding for it.

Earlier this week, city Council Speaker Christine Quinn also said she would work to shore up city funding for the program, which has remained flat since 1995.

But don’t expect the state to come through with another MTA bailout to prevent sweeping service cuts, as dire finances is forcing lawmakers to make “painful” reductions across all agencies, Brodsky said Thursday during a state Assembly hearing on the MTA budget.

The transit rollbacks, which include eliminating or curtailing four subway lines and cutting dozens of bus routes, will take place in July without an infusion of millions of dollars, the MTA said. Officials are now fine-tuning the cuts before proposing the final package later this month.

Other MTA developments from the hearing:

— MTA officials will decide by Jan. 19 whether to appeal a recent court ruling that upheld 11 percent raises for 35,000 transit workers.

— A beefing up of subway security first begun after Sept. 11 is now 80 percent done, with a lawsuit holding up the rest of the work.

— The MTA is “reviewing” all of its real estate holdings to see where it might squeeze out more dollars.

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