2008_11_metcardm.jpgPhotograph by phrenologist on Flickr

After much speculation and the local papers preparing commuters for what was to come, the MTA made their official budget proposal today and as expected, the cutbacks were dramatic. In addition to the slashing of the W and the Z lines among other cuts listed Tuesday, today's 2009 budget also included the following:

  • Increasing weekend wait times by 25% on most lines
  • Raising express bus fares from $5 to $7.50
  • Getting rid of the X27 and X28 express-bus lines as well as 25 overnight bus routes
  • Eliminating a total of 2,700 jobs
  • An additional 250+ job cuts on the LIRR and Metro-North
  • Slowing down the renovation of Grand Central Station and cutting back on its maintenance and cleaning
  • Reducing facility security and truck weight enforcement personnel on bridge and tunnel crossings
  • An even greater reliance on E-Z Pass Lanes over Cash ones
  • A 23 percent fare and toll increase proposal and alternate year fare and toll increases starting in 2011

While that last point does not specify what those increases will be, it authorizes the MTA staff to begin the public hearing process for potential fare/toll increases and service cuts.

MTA heads were delivered the news with their heads hanging low. MTA Chairman Dale Hemmedinger said, "We can either cut service or we can raise fares. That’s all we can do. If we don’t balance the budget by the end of the year, we could all go to jail.” And MTA Executive Director Elliot Sander who again called the cuts "draconian" added, "They will be painful and no one at the MTA is eager to implement them...It powers our economy and we cannot allow the system to move backward at this critical moment." They both pleaded for more assistance from all levels of government.

(And to clarify the announcement from Tuesday of the "halving of the G" that was included in the cuts, the implementation of that specifically means that train will no longer run beyond Court Square in Queens.)