No part of the MTA's planned service cuts has proven to be more controversial than the agency's proposal to get rid of free Metrocards for students.

In a move that Mayor Bloomberg called "unconscionable," more than 500,000 public school students who currently commute for free would have to pay half price next September and full price the year after that. Getting rid of the free student fares might help the agency plug a part of it newly discovered $400 million budget gap, but the increase is too much for Queens student Lester De La Cruz, who said: "I don't think I could afford that so I think I'd have to transfer out of the school I've been going to for two years now."

Community activist Anthony Herbert told WCBS that eliminating the free rides could lead students to break the law. "Our kids are going to be jumping turnstiles with the effort to get to school which gets them summonses that they can't pay for, which means now it's turns into warrants," he said. "Thousands of parents are kind of ticked off right now that their kids are being jeopardized with regard to the opportunity of going to school."

Increasing student fares is just one part of the planned service cuts, which almost entirely mirror the proposed "doomsday" cuts from last spring. If approved, straphangers will witness the elimination of the W and Z trains, the shortening of the G and M trains, a reduction in train service at midday and at night, the shuttering of a few train stations at night, the elimination of more than a dozen bus routes, the elimination of weekday and weekend service on dozens of other buses, a 10 percent salary cut for non-union workers, layoffs for 700 MTA workers, reductions in Access-A-Ride services of for the disabled, and reductions in service on Metro North and Long Island Rail Road routes. The full MTA board is expected to vote on the budget tomorrow, though some of the more controversial cuts will need to be approved again next year, according to the Times.