Timing is everything. As New York City will be celebrating 100 years of our beloved subway system, the MTA is talking about its budget crisis - one that involves figures like "Budget deficit of $1 billion each year" and "$20 billion of debt by 2008." It's so bad that five subway watchdogs/economic analysts ( Jon Orcutt, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign; James Parrott, chief economist of the Fiscal Policy Institute; Gene Russianoff, staff attorney of the Straphangers Campaign; Roger Toussaint, president of Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union; and Robert Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association) signed a letter to Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki, imploring them to "avert a disaster for New York's transit riders and workers" "in the interest of New Yorkrs."

The NY Times points out that the huge financial problems were foreseen and that the blame can be attributed to both NYC mayors and the governor, but Governor Pataki wields the most power when making decisions about the MTA, and we feel one of the worst ones was Chairman E. Virgil Conaway who "adopted a new capital program, without any new sources of aid, that relied more heavily on borrowing than in the past." Really, the article is depressing, but Gothamist strongly urges you to read the article and become familiar with the names of officials involved, because on the election day, perhaps you'll be able to vote for Assembly members and State Senators who have our interests at heart. For a lucid explanation of the fare hike, look at this Straphangers' press release. The Straphangers also have this handy page that explains how you can get involved in telling your elected leaders/MTA officials what you think.

And in happier news, the MTA's reenactment of the first subway ride from City Hall Station will be tomorrow; Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Pataki, and MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow will be present.