Friday, April 18, 2014

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Transit Officials Ask For Federal Assistance

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It looks like the state's budget problems could mean subway and bus fares will go even higher than expected next year. In the following report, NY1 Transit reporter Bobby Cuza explains that the MTA is hoping Washington may toss a life preserver to keep its budget afloat.

Just when it seemed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's financial picture could not get any worse, it now appears a fare increase planned for next year could be even bigger than expected – thanks in part to the growing budget deficits in Albany.

"We are extremely concerned about what has occurred with the state's revenues," said MTA Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Elliot "Lee" Sander.

While not technically a state agency, the MTA does receive state aid. Next year, it was counting on $300 million in new funding from both the state and city to help close a roughly one-billion-dollar deficit.

That was in addition to a planned fare hike that would likely raise the base fare from $2 to $2.25. Now, with more state funding unlikely, tax revenue down, and job losses likely to slow ridership growth, riders could get hit with an even bigger hike and possibly service cuts, as well.

"It certainly looks like the situation will be more problematic than we thought before," said Sander.

Like the state, the MTA is now looking to the federal government for help – hoping to cash in on an economic stimulus package, which the MTA hopes will include money for infrastructure projects.

"We have given them a laundry list of things that we think would be helpful to us – station painting, cleaning, cars, that kind of stuff," said MTA Deputy Executive Director Christopher Boylan. "So it would be things that you could actually create jobs with in 60 to 90 days."

Whether federal help could arrive in time to help limit a fare hike seems doubtful though. The MTA is already planning to present a revised budget at a special board meeting in just over two weeks.

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