Dig out that reading list, load your iPod up, and get ready to lose that teeny sense of "personal space" while commuting - the MTA wants $20 million in service cuts as part of a way to deal with its huge, looming budget deficits. And we're talking deficits of $905 million in 2008, $1.13 billion in 2009, $1.48 billion in 2010. The NY Times reports how the cut could manifest themselves in our everyday lives:
The cuts would add one to five minutes to wait times on many subway lines and local bus routes during off-peak periods. For subways, it would mean that on weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., all trains would run every 10 minutes, according to authority budget documents. Evening and late-night waiting times would be from 10 to 20 minutes.
Okay, so, take those numbers, which we feel are pretty optimistic on some lines, and multiply that by 2 or 3, and you'll get the real waiting time. And as much as reading is fundamental, no one wants to be able to read that much on the subway platform. The cuts amount to about $5 million for the subways and $15 million for buses, which can only mean you'll never find that bus you want, and when you do, it'll be crazy crowded.
The budget is being reviewed by the MTA board members, and already one tells the Times he will fight it. Barry Feinstein (our new best friend!) says, "These are substantial service cuts. That is not what I want to see, particularly at a time when our ridership is higher than ever and we have busy crowded subways in the middle of the night.” Further, Feinstein adds, "I am not of the view that making a $5 million cut in the subways with headway [subway wait time] is going to have any impact on a billion-dollar budget deficit.” No kidding! How about selling the West Side Railyards for what it's worth, if you're selling it? This is time for some government intervention - not that Pataki can hear us.
If they get passed, these will be the biggest service cuts in years for the subways and buses. The NY Times does note that "The authority declined to identify specific subway and bus routes that would be affected by the cuts" (though we'll guess it'll affect outer-borough service the most). And the subway fare will go up next year.