The MTA board yesterday approved a $12.6 billion budget for 2012. The good news: There will be no service cuts or fare hikes in 2012. The bad news: with a $68 million deficit approved in the budget the Authority voted not to spend another $20 million to bring back previously axed services. Try again next year!
"I don’t know where we’re going to get the $35 million that I just said we’re going to cut," budget director Robert Foran explained at the meeting after the $20 million idea was brought up again (in something of a shocker, politically). "I don’t know where I’ll get this $20 million."
The argument for returning service, which board member Allen Capelli has been pushing hard this week, was shot down in a vote of 6-4 (new executive director Jay Lota called it a "dangerous proposal"). But not before a few proponents of the idea spoke their mind: "If you care about public mass transit, put up or shut up," Charles Moerdler said reportedly before comparing the amendment to apple pie and motherhood. "You cannot vote against it."
Well, except they did. And as far as being financially prudent goes, the MTA probably made the right decision—no matter how disheartening to riders. The budget they approved isn't even balanced and depends on a number of variables (payroll taxes, no further labor costs) to get as close as it did. Still, its actually nice to have evidence that at least some people on the MTA's board actually seem to care about riders.