Cuomo to Cut MTA Budget By $100 Million

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

J / Z Marcy Street stop (Jim O'Grady/WNYC)

The MTA said Governor Andrew Cuomo's call on Tuesday for a $100 million cut from its already squeezed budget will be painful but can be done without additional fare hikes or service cuts. Still, riders may see dirtier buses and trains.

Bill Henderson of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA said all the low-hanging fruit has been plucked from the authority's budget.

Last year the MTA cut two trains, dozens of bus routes, added several minutes to most commute times, halved the cleaning schedule for trains, and laid off hundreds of workers. Henderson says he worried the new round of cuts could mean longer waits for riders, postponed maintenance and even less frequent cleaning of stations, trains and buses.

"That's a lot of money, and until I see where the money is coming from that doesn't have an impact on the riders, I'm going to be nervous about impacts on the riders," he said.

Transportation Alternatives concurred.

"The MTA has pledged not to raise fares or cut bus and subway service," said executive director Paul Steely White. "But with $100 million less in state funding, something has to give."

Swimming somewhat against the tide was the Straphangers Campaign in a statement that began, "Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed state budget was mostly good news for New York City-area transit riders in these tough economic times."

What that means, explained Straphangers staff attorney Gene Russianoff, is it could've been worse.

"The bottom line is the state budget cut is not going to force a service cut or fare hike the way there's been for the last three years," he said.

But Russianoff, like Henderson, was wary about where the agency would find further savings given its recent round of belt-tightening. Last year, the MTA saved $400 million by pruning administrative expenses, cracking down on overtime and centralizing departments like legal and accounting.

Russianoff and Henderson warned that, in the past, the authority has saved money through moves like laying off token clerks and reducing cleaning shifts, which it doesn't classify as service cuts.

MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said it was too soon to discuss specific cost-saving measures and referred repeatedly to the authority's official statement on Cuomo's budget.

"We must fill this gap," it said. "And we will fill it without resorting to fare and toll increases or service cuts because our riders have already been hit with these painful measures over the past year. Instead, we will work to find additional cost-savings through efficiencies and improved productivity throughout our company."

The MTA went on to adopt a we're-all-in-this-together tone when raising the subject of what are sure to be contentious negotiations with its unions: "We are hopeful that this year we can work with our labor unions to find productivity improvements that protect jobs even as we reduce costs."

The budget involves some fancy shifting between the capital plan, debt service, and operating expenses, but at the end of the day, the Authority will have $100 million less to spend on riders, more than the entire budgets of most transit systems in the U.S.



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Comments [4]

triant from Brooklyn

Explain to me why we keep taking this crap from this city. I cant even imagine how it is possible for the MTA to have issues when they make so much money. The money from the Verrazano bridge alone is massive, how is it they are always broke. And they had the nerve to strike a few years back. Pieces of garbage. My train station has peeeling paint and garbage everywhere.
Until we step up and force the government to shake this crap union up we will continue to take it. While are issues might not be as massive as what going on around the world, we should take and example and finally stand up for ourselves and fight for a cause.

Feb. 10 2011 08:33 PM
Ben Dover from trapped between the car doors

CONSTANTLY IMPROVING WAYS TO FLEECE NEW YORKERS. the managers of the MTA have yet to get serious about cutting administrative and executive jobs and managing labor costs with union. why all the overtime?

Feb. 02 2011 03:42 AM

MTA has always been a f^&**cking JOKE. They should take a flame thrower to those thieves. Paladino was right and so is Cuomo

Feb. 01 2011 11:23 PM
John from Brewster


Over 8000 of these crooks make over 6 figures and it's disgusting to see how they advertise themselves as "improving".

I'm late when I want to be early and I'm early when I want to be late to work because they are so inconsistent. That includes both Metro-North and the Subways, actually, especially the subways.

Stupid unions...

Feb. 01 2011 11:14 PM

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