MTA to cut more than 1,000 positions

February 23, 2010 3:47:11 PM PST
They've been called the eyes and ears of the MTA. But now more than 400 station agents could be laid off, along with about 600 officials at headquarters.

It's the loss of the station agents that have many riders worried.

"I think it's a mistake because you do need a lot of these people around, and so (MTA) shouldn't lay them off," one rider said.

"I don't think it's good. People need to work. How we gonna get help?" wondered another rider.

Station agent and union official Maurice Jenkins says the MTA seems more concerned about those new countdown clocks than about people out of work.

"It's a countdown to destruction. Would you take away the safety aspect of what we do to find out when a train is coming?" Jenkins said.

This latest news comes after a new round of cutbacks, and the ever present possibility of a bigger than expected fare hike next year.

Despite a lot of new help from taxpayers, the picture is so bad at the MTA because of the bleak economy.

While the legislative rescue package passed in May 2009 was projected to balance the MTA's budget, the forecasted revenues have failed to materialize. The MTA budget passed in December relied on a package of service cuts and these administrative layoffs to close a $383 million deficit. Since that time, an additional $378 million gap has developed this year based on revised state revenue projections.

"The state's economic crisis demands that the MTA move quickly and decisively to cut costs, and that is exactly what we are doing," MTA chairmand and CEO Jay Walder said. "These layoffs are extremely painful, but we must live within our means and make the tough decisions that businesses and families across New York are making."

The real estate tax alone brought in about 1.6 billion dollars three years ago. Now it's down to about 400-million a year.

"There's no doubt the picture at the MTA is bleak and no doubt we have to make cuts and cuts will be coming, but the reality of the situation is I think this represents an opportunity for the MTA to get leaner," said Jim Vacca, NYC Council Transportation Chair.

Meaning not many riders will be upset about layoffs at headquarters, but the news will likely get worse soon.

The agency could consider laying off bus drivers and others who actually operate the system.

Those are cuts all of us would feel as soon as this summer.