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Bailout possible by Monday for MTA and may mean 1 head's better than 2 in charge

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State legislation designed to rescue straphangers from massive service cuts and fare hikes could emerge in Albany as soon as Monday, sources said Friday.


If approved by the state Assembly and Senate, the plan not only could put the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on firmer financial ground - but also under new leadership.


The rescue plan, which proponents hope is finalized over the weekend, merges the MTA's unsalaried, part-time chairman's position with the full-time chief executive officer's post.


And it's unclear who would get that powerful top job.


MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger already has a lucrative full-time position running his family's real estate conglomerate.


Transit advocates and some elected officials have praised current CEO Elliot Sander's running of the bus, subway and commuter train network.


But Gov. Paterson may bring in a fresh face to declare a new era for an authority still struggling - fairly or not - with a negative image solidified over decades.


A state commission formed by Paterson and headed by former MTA Chairman Richard Ravitch recommended tolls on the East River and Harlem River bridges, an employer-paid payroll tax and fare hikes averaging 8% to help plug MTA budget gaps.


If those gaps aren't plugged, Sander and Hemmerdinger have said the authority will have to raise fare and toll revenue by 23%, meaning a monthly MetroCard could cost as much as $103. The price is now $81.


Service cuts would include eliminating some bus and subway routes, running commuter train and subways less frequently and closing overnight a handful of subway stations in lower Manhattan.


The rescue legislation could incorporate a recommendation by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) that bridge tolls be equal to the cost of riding the subway, now $2, sources said.


On another funding front, sources said Paterson may propose raising the DMV's vehicle registration fees substantially to fund the multibillion-dollar highway and bridge program.


BY Glenn Blain and Pete Donohue


March 7th 2009



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Well they need to stop Effing around and come up with some kind of plan. I tell you, whenever something needs to get done right away and politicians are involved, you better believe it'll take twice as long to get done...if even then!

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