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It doesn't stop with '09 hike: Proposed MTA budget has more pain in store

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It doesn't stop with '09 hike: Proposed MTA budget has more pain in store

By PETE DONOHUE

DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

July 23rd 2008

 

alg_rushhour.jpg

Theodorakis/News

The price of getting where you need to go just keeps going up. New York

commuters who've been spared pain at the gas pump may be getting hit with

back-to-back fare hikes - and another in 2011.

 

Straphangers would be hit with a fare hike next year - and another in 2011 - under a preliminary financial plan released Wednesday by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

 

"I recognize that what we are proposing is difficult, but our challenges are sobering," MTA CEO Elliot Sander said.

 

Several board members voiced opposition to asking more from subway, bus, commuter train riders - and drivers - so soon after the last increase. They said the authority can do more to find savings - but others conceded that the MTA can't cut its way out of the financial crisis.

 

If approved by the MTA board in December, the first hike would go into effect July - an 8% rise that would generate an additional $202 million in fare and toll increases.

 

It would mark just the second time there were back-to-back hikes, the last in 1980 and 1981.

 

Officials also penciled in 5% in hikes for January 2011 but later said that's by no means a firm date. Increases traditionally hit in March or April.

 

The MTA, which raised fares and tolls in March, had previously said that would be followed by regular increases every other year tied to the rate of inflation, with the next hitting in 2010.

 

The accelerated schedule is required because of soaring fuel prices, coupled with declining revenue from certain real estate transactions, which blew a $700 million hole in MTA finances on top of an already projected $200 million shortfall for next year.

 

The MTA hasn't specified how individual MetroCard prices might be affected, but a 25-cent increase in the base subway bus fare is expected as the base fare hasn't been altered for several years.

 

The preliminary 2009 budget also asks the state and city to pony up more than $300 million in additional state and city subsidies - including government covering the full cost of providing bus and subway service to school children and senior citizens. The reimbursements - now just 50% of expenses - have not been increased by the city and state in more than a decade, officials said.

 

Sander said the structural financial problem stemmed from inadequate state support for the MTA's capital construction and maintenance program that forced the authority to borrow excessively. Those debt payments - much of which come from fares and tolls - are sky high.

 

Gov. Paterson has appointed a panel headed by former MTA Chairman Richard Ravitch to recommend ways to increase transit funding. That report is due in November.

 

Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg have voiced opposition to another round of fare hikes but said they have their own budget gaps to fill. Bloomberg said he wouldn't support increases until the MTA demonstrates that is has cut as much as possible and has proven that it is "doing more with less."

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well at this rate Im assuming once that famous (T) line (2nd Ave subway) is completes...the fare will be $3.00 or at least $2.75 one way....

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well at this rate Im assuming once that famous (T) line (2nd Ave subway) is completes...the fare will be $3.00 or at least $2.75 one way....

 

I can't help but be mad at the mismanagement fiasco that is sparking the idea of a metrocard increase from 2 dollars. It needs to be a nice even number, 2 dollars is fine, simply increase bridge tolls. Oh, congestion pricing would have fixed all this, and reduced traffic and increased air quality.

 

- Andy

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I can't help but be mad at the mismanagement fiasco that is sparking the idea of a metrocard increase from 2 dollars. It needs to be a nice even number, 2 dollars is fine, simply increase bridge tolls. Oh, congestion pricing would have fixed all this, and reduced traffic and increased air quality.

 

- Andy

 

I agree. All the rich people with two cars were complaining about congestion pricing. Now we pay.

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I agree. All the rich people with two cars were complaining about congestion pricing. Now we pay.

 

I have a feeling it wont be raised, and a feeling congestion pricing will return to albany soon.

 

- Andy

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I can't help but be mad at the mismanagement fiasco that is sparking the idea of a metrocard increase from 2 dollars. It needs to be a nice even number, 2 dollars is fine, simply increase bridge tolls. Oh, congestion pricing would have fixed all this, and reduced traffic and increased air quality.

 

- Andy

I agree 100%!

 

I have a feeling it wont be raised, and a feeling congestion pricing will return to albany soon.

 

- Andy

Yeah, the Congestion Pricing plan is going to visit as much times as its proposed until its approved. Too bad NY State don't have all the right people in Albany.....

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well at this rate Im assuming once that famous (T) line (2nd Ave subway) is completes...the fare will be $3.00 or at least $2.75 one way....

 

I'd rather them scrap the whole (T) plan entirely, if that's what it took to balance the budget so that we wouldn't be forced to pay more than we're already paying.

 

It's just one more example of how it's become quite difficult, economically, to live in New York. Our expenses are skyrocketing, one after another.

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