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Old Posted Nov 19, 2009, 11:29 AM
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11/18/2009 05:10 PM
Riders Spared In Latest MTA Budget
By: Bobby Cuza

While the city and state continue to grapple with major budget shortfalls, the news over at the MTA is surprisingly less grim. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's 2010 budget, presented to board members Wednesday, is devoid of any big surprises.

Thanks to the $1.9 billion a year bailout approved by Albany back in May, and the fare increase that took effect in June, a major financial crisis has been averted.

"This budget has no service cuts. It has no fare increases. So that’s a positive thing," said MTA board member James Sedore.

But there is potential trouble ahead. The MTA is currently in court fighting an arbitrator's decision to give transit workers 11 percent raises over three years -- a move that would blow a massive hole in its budget. Facing his own budget crisis, Governor David Paterson has proposed cutting state aid to the MTA by $115 million a year.

"I think overall the MTA remains in a very, very fragile financial position," said MTA Chairman & CEO Jay Walder.

Walder says the agency can no longer count on help from Albany. In order to restore its credibility, he also says the agency must make fundamental changes to the way it does business from top to bottom.

"We have to look at everything. We have to look at the procurements, we have to look at the staffing, we have to look at the maintenance," Walder said. "We have to look everywhere that we can be more efficient in what we’re doing."

"For 2010, it looks like we’re reasonably stable, and that’s good news for the rider," said William Henderson of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA.

While fares will hold steady through next year, the reprieve doesn't last long. As announced earlier this year, the MTA still plans to raise fares by about 7.5 percent on January 1, 2011.

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