MTA deadline bears down on Albany

March 19, 2009 3:40:45 PM PDT
There is less than one week until the deadline to bail out the MTA. And it's looking like the Authority will have to put in place its doomsday budget proposal, raising fares and cutting workers. There was not a lot of action from Albany Thursday, and so the MTA says it has no other choice but to move forward with the deep cuts.

A vote at the MTA is set for next week.

The cuts include eliminating more than 20 bus lines and would happen fairly soon. The fare hikes would take effect June 1.

Albany, however, isn't budging by helping out. And that's clearly frustrating the governor.

"This is a classic example of Albany thinking it could make up its own rules," David Paterson said. "That is a solid date, March 25."

If Albany doesn't act by that date:

  • A single ride will go from $2 to $2.50.
  • A monthly Metrocard will go from $81 to $103.
  • Commuters on Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road face increases of 24 to 29 percent.

    "Like this morning, I almost got knocked down, my guitar broken because it's so crowded," straphanger Radiant Smalls. "We're paying more and more money, but we're not getting better service."

    With the MTA moving forward on its hike, the mayor placed blame squarely on the state Senate. He urged voters call Albany.

    "They should call their state senator and say you've got to do something about this," Michael Bloomberg said. "Because we're not going to shut down the system, and the employees of the MTA are not going to work for nothing."

    Even though it's the state Senate dragging its feet on MTA funding, the political fallout is spreading to just about everybody involved.

    "Well, between the MTA and the governor, I'm annoyed with them because they need to come to some consensus," subway rider Vilma Anderson said. "They need to think about the public and not just themselves."

    A spokesperson from the state Senate in Albany responded to the governor, mayor and critics by saying they have offered an alternative plan that does not include tolls on the East River. That statement went on to take a dig at the MTA for a lack of honest accounting.

    Again, if Albany doesn't act soon, the fare hikes take effect June 1.


    WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King