MTA: Riders should be concerned

June 23, 2008 4:45:35 PM PDT
The MTA's Executive Director told reporters that the worsening economy is driving down revenues and driving up costs and that riders should be expect to be disappointed. "I think riders should be concerned," said MTA Executive Director Elliot Sander, after a meeting of the agency's finance committee.

For example, the MTA toll revenues were down by $4.2 million last month, a loss of nearly 4-percent over past projections. Transit Authority fuel costs are running roughly $10 million over budget for the year.

The agency has opted to postpone long-needed renovations at 19 subway stations. And it voted to raise the penalty for farebeating to $100 from $60.

But Sander refused to be specific about what the greater impact would be, saying the MTA board would be asked to consider a number of ways to balance the budget, which is required by law.

Those options will be presented at the agency's July board meeting. Sander did not rule out a fare increase, although he expressed optimism that state lawmakers would help the agency avoid that.

It is ironic that the MTA's immediate problems are not of its own making, and owe themselves to deteriorating economic conditions. Yet the agency has exhausted its credibility at a time when it needs it most.

Transit watchdog Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers' Campaign told us, "They've cried wolf one too many times. Their timing couldn't be much worse."

STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter N.J. Burkett