When fares rose to $2.25 and the state legislature bailed out the MTA in May, it was with the understanding that there would be no service cuts. But now the MTA's "doomsday" scenario has been revived in order to cover an unexpected financial shortfall of nearly $400 million. A budget plan under consideration by the authority’s Finance Committee today would slash the number of subway trains during the day, late nights and weekends. Free or discounted fares for students would be phased out, dozens of bus lines would be reduced or eliminated, the W and Z would be terminated, and service on the M and G lines cut back. And people are pissed.

"The fact that you would jeopardize free MetroCards for children to go to school, and put their parents in harm's way, is something so inexcusable, I had to come here today and tell you, just stop," Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer told the MTA committee this morning. Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign believes the MTA has the resources to prevent the service cuts if it uses available federal stimulus funds and capital funds now coming out of the operating budget. "Riders have every reason to be as mad as hell," Russianoff told the MTA, according to City Room.

Asked about the proposed elimination of free rides for schoolkids, Paterson told reporters, "My hands are tied right now because we don't have any resources to give them. Personally, I don't think I like the idea of diminishing the MetroCards. They need the MetroCards to go to school." In previous years, the state and city have contributed $45 million each toward the $160 million program, but this year the state cut its funding to $6 million.