The deficit-reduction plan passed by the State Legislature yesterday cut $140 million from the authority's operating budget, which is more than the $110 million that was originally anticipated. Bus and subway fares are already expected to rise 7.5 percent in 2011 and 2013, but after a hearing today on the MTA’s capital plan, Jay Walder, the authority's chief, told reporters that he would not raise fares... at least not next year.
"It is my intent to stay with the schedule of fare hikes that was agreed with the Legislature in May, which does not call for a fare hike in 2010," Walder said. "We have a responsibility now to be able to try to show how we can tighten our belt and how we can do things more efficiently and productively." Walder did not elaborate on how he plans to cover the shortfall without reducing service or raising fares, but one place to start might be to stop paying workers to do nothing—this week it was revealed that the agency's 455 outdoor track repair workers only work about four hours per day.
To make up a $100 million shortfall, the MTA would have to raise fares again by roughly 2 percent, or cut services. But City Room notes that such cutbacks don't often lead to significant savings; for instance, removing nearly 300 station agents from the subways saved just $5.7 million.