NY MTA Ponders How To Spend An Extra $40 Million

The NY MTA is deciding all the time how to spend the discretionary part of its budget. But rarely is that budget unexpectedly enriched by an extra $40 million, which occurred last month when Albany bestowed that much more than requested in state funds. Now the debate begins on how to spend it.

Competing ideas were thrown into the ring on Monday at a finance committee meeting held at the NY MTA's Midtown headquarters.

Board members Alan Capelli and Mitch Pally proposed setting up a Rider Investment Fund that would be used to restore bus, train and subway service. The authority cut service by $100 million in 2010, then added back and extended service by $29 million dollars last year. Capelli had spoken in favor of the idea on Sunday at a rally on the steps of City Hall held by the Transit Riders Alliance, an advocacy group.

Another official said the surplus should be used instead to delay fare hikes set to kick in 20 months from now. Board member James Sedore disagreed. He said the NY MTA owed raises to its workers, who've been without a contract for 16 months.

"I haven't spoken to all the agency presidents but I can tell you that morale at Metro-North is in the tank," Sedore said.

NY MTA financial officer Robert Foran advised caution because that $40 million dollars might be needed to plug budget holes. "Just because we have a surplus on one budget line doesn't mean we don't have gaps elsewhere in the budget," he said.

The mattered was tabled until July.