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Well, looks who is Mr. Helpful all of a sudden: MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow is opposed to service cuts the MTA was planning to consider in its budget. The service cuts, which were reported yesterday in the NY Times, would have been extensive, piling on many minutes of waiting time for subways and buses as service. Critics - including our readers - freaked out, and especially considering plans to increase the subway and bus fare by 5%. Yesterday Kalikow said:

“What I’m doing, officially, is letting New York City Transit know that the M.T.A. board, which runs New York City Transit, does not want a fare increase or service cuts and they need to find other things to do, if necessary. Those two things are not things we’re going to be interested in....

Service cuts are something we do not like. We abhor them. We think they’re wrong. You don’t get the increase in the ridership we’ve had in the last few years by cutting service. You do by increasing service.

So, not only does he opppose the service cuts, he doesn't want a fare hike next year? Next thing you know, he'll be giving transit workers what they want in a contract!

Kalikow told the Daily News, "I'm not afraid to raise fares when necessary, but right now it's not necessary." So, don't do the "No fare hike" dance yet. What we're finding amusing is that now MTA officials who were working on the budget are annoyed at Kalikow telling everyone he will block service cuts, because now he's remaking himself from zero to hero. And we don't get how this budget got passed around without Kalikow knowing something. Anyway, Transit Workers Union president Roger Toussaint said, "We are glad it took Chairman Kalikow only a couple of hours to see the light this time... We stand with the riders when we say that not another dollar should be cut from the service or safety concerns of passengers until the MTA trims the fat from its own bloated administrative staff -- they need to cut the suits, not the service."

And the Straphangers Campaign's Gene Russianoff tells the NY Times he's glad Kalikow will stop the cuts, but he adds, "All the big issues are now squarely in the lap of the new governor: fare hike, service cuts, more state aid, M.T.A. efficiencies." So, keep that in mind when you're voting in November: Know what the candidates' platforms about MTA service will be.