Downtown Protestors Rally Against MTA Service Cuts
Thursday, February 04, 2010
by Radhika Marya
Commuters, elected officials, and transportation advocates are rallying against proposed mass transit cuts, a day after the MTA announced it was facing a new $400 million deficit.
Protesters gathered at the JMZ station at Wall Street near the M line, one of several lines that is on the MTA's chopping block. The protesters are calling on the agency to fill the budget deficit by drawing on federal stimulus funds, instead of cutting transit services.
“This is an idea that will keep MetroCards in the pockets of students. It is an idea that will lessen the cutbacks in the subways and buses,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn says. “And it is an idea that will keep seniors and disabled people with Access-a-Ride to get to where they need to go.”
Other speakers, like James Vacca, chair of the New York City Council Transportation Committee, say the proposed cuts could cripple the entire mass transit system.
The MTA initially came up with the controversial transit cuts as a solution to close a $400 million budget gap. Now the agency is facing an additional $400 million deficit, and more cuts may be coming.
The deficit can be linked to a payroll tax, which was enacted last year in an effort to raise more money for the MTA, but officials say it actually wound up raising less revenue than expected.
Spokesman Aaron Donovan says the MTA is in the process of determining the exact magnitude of the budget gap. If the deficit is as large as expected, he says federal stimulus money will not likely be enough to eliminate the proposed service cuts.