Wednesday, July 27, 2011

MTA Proposing Fare Hikes For 2013 and 2015 In Light Of Reduced Support From Albany

The MTA is proposing fare hikes for both 2013 and 2015 in light of the fact that the nation's largest transit agency is facing a shortfall in its budget and the state is not providing as much support as it did just a few years ago.

The agency has spent the past couple of years trying to cut out dead-wood and reduce its workforce, but it's still working against ongoing maintenance needs and projects that continue to go over budget.

The fare hikes would be 7.5% in 2013
and likely a similar percentage in 2015.
The MTA budgeted the hikes as part of its five-year financial plan, which the brass will bring to the agency board today for review.

Even with the hikes, the agency's fiscal situation remained grim.

There's a $54 million shortfall for the 2014 budget, while 2015 -- the year the newly announced fare hikes will take effect -- is still $178 million in the red, according to the preliminary budget.

The MTA will also try to draw out deep concessions from its unionized workforce, demanding that employees forgo raises for three years -- saving $347 million by 2015.

But the Transport Workers Union -- which represents the majority of MTA workers -- has repeatedly said they will not forgo cost-of-living raises.

The MTA also yesterday announced a complicated funding formula to replenish the funds in its capital budget, which includes asking the feds to loan it $3 billion.

Most of that dough will go toward a massive project to bring the LIRR into Grand Central Terminal.
Fare hikes continue to hit the working class hardest and they're in the position least capable of absorbing the incessant fare hikes. It may well drive some off mass transit altogether as they consider the costs of driving directly to work locations preferable to dealing with a scheduled timetable (particularly for those on Metro North or LIRR).

Part of the problem stems from the highly distasteful payroll tax that never brought in the kind of revenues envisioned. The budget shortfalls also were due to reduced real estate transfer tax revenues during the recession, but those payments are starting to come back to pre-recession levels.

What the MTA needs is to better address capital construction budgets to keep costs down and more support from Albany to make sure that the transit system remains the premier system in the world - and one whose subway system operates 24/7.

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