MTA Urged to Pay Down Debt Withy Surplus

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The MTA has an extra $95 million, according to a report by the New York state comptroller.

The real estate boom has been good to the MTA. Thanks to higher than expected tax revenues, the MTA's projected surplus for this year is now $928 million. But, the picture changes drastically in the years to come when the MTA's high debt level is expected to create a $1.7 billion deficit by 2009.

Comptroller Alan Hevesi encouraged the MTA to use its current surplus to either pay down its debt or to offset future fare hikes or service reductions. Hevesi cautioned the MTA not to spend hundreds of millions to build a platform over its Hudson Railyards -- the site of the failed Jets stadium. He said that cost should be borne by a developer.

A spokesman for the MTA said Hevesi is entitled to his opinion and that a final decision on the railyards likely won't be made until December.