As the Metropolitan Transportation Authority considers far-reaching service cuts that could eliminate free Metrocards for students and nix entire subway lines, the MTA's chairman unveiled a series of agency-wide goals intended to make commuting easier. MTA Chair Jay Walder said the city's public transit needs a "top-to-bottom overhaul" because "many service improvements are long overdue and ... customers are tired of hearing excuses."

Walder said the agency will move forward with its plan to install countdown clocks on all of the numbered train lines and will experiment with a "smart," MetroCard-less fare system on the Lexington Avenue subway lines, some crosstown buses, and PATH and NJTransit trains, the Daily News reports. According to the Times, the MTA plans to remove the gates from the E-ZPass toll lanes on the Henry Hudson Bridge between Manhattan and the Bronx, and move toward implementing an all-electronic fare-collection system that would charge E-ZPass owners and send fare-collection letters to drivers without E-ZPass devices in their cars.

The MTA will continue to push state legislators to allow the use of surveillance cameras to punish drivers who obstruct bus-only lanes, and it will begin to paint and clean subway stations more frequently. Considering that the agency employs some 5,000 administrative employees doing redundant work and maintains a whopping 92 different customer information phone numbers, a major part of the overhaul will be streamlining office practices, the Advance reports. Walder's plans for the future come at a time when the MTA is facing a $400 million budget shortfall. Making matters worse, a new report shows the agency lost $100 million in fare and toll revenue due to drops in ridership caused by the recession, the Post reports.