With the MTA facing a $400 million budget gap—even if it implements "Doomsday" service cuts and a 7.5 percent fare hike—Mayor Bloomberg warned straphangers yesterday that commuting will likely become more tedious, more expensive, or both. According to the Post, the Mayor said state legislators must "come up with some ways to fund the MTA, or the MTA is either going to have to raise rates dramatically or cut back service dramatically—or, what's more likely, some combination of the two,"
Following the revelation that a payroll tax created last year to help bailout the agency hasn't provided as much revenue as anticipated, MTA board members say a fare hike is the only answer. "As much as it pains me to have to do another fare hike, there are precious few options at this point," one board member told the tabloid. "Looking at the reality of where we are financially, I don't know how we go about continuing to provide service without the fare hike."
Despite repeated requests from transit activists, the MTA doesn't seem interested in redirecting $140 million of federal stimulus money from construction projects to day-to-day operations in order to keep buses and trains running without service cuts or fare hikes. "We still think it's a bad idea to use capital dollars," said MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin. "That said, we are required to have a balanced budget and everything needs to be on the table."