Transit Agency Approves Cuts, and More Bad News Looms – From the New York Times

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It seems that New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is in dire fancial straights, just like our TransLink. What should not be forgotten is that even though New York has a vast subway system and massive daily ridership, mainteneace cost for that subway are massive and contributing to their finacial plight.

For those preaching a subway solution as the only transit solution for Broadway, maybe leaving a financial time bomb for future generations if the subway doesn’t carry the ridership that justifies subway construction. If a SkyTrain subway is built under Broadway, watch for the elimination of the U-Pass and the introduction of a $5.00 one zone ticket and those will be the least of both transit customers and Vancouver taxpayer’s worries.

Transit Agency Approves Cuts, and More Bad News Looms

By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM
Published: March 24, 2010

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority formally approved on Wednesday a slate of severe service cuts that will eliminate two subway lines and dozens of bus routes in the city and create longer, more-crowded trips for the region’s transit riders.

The cuts, which will help close a budget gap of about $400 million, will not go into effect until June, but discussions have already begun about how the board will address an anticipated budget deficit of nearly another $400 million. And there is a growing, if reluctant, consensus that higher fares and tolls will be necessary; the only question is when and by how much.

A 7.5 percent fare increase is scheduled for next year. Agency officials have calculated how much revenue could be gained from various fare and toll structures, according to people familiar with the discussions. The topic has come up in private conversations between Jay H. Walder, the authority’s chairman, and friends and colleagues.

And the question has arisen whether an even bigger increase would be preferable to losing yet more service.

Mr. Walder has repeatedly said that he does not want to raise fares this year, and people familiar with his thinking say that he is determined to keep that pledge.

Asked on Wednesday if next year’s increase might be larger than 7.5 percent, Mr. Walder said only that the authority would consider the specifics of the next increase later this year.

“The first priority right now is on reducing our costs,” he said.

With little possibility of a state bailout, however, the authority’s options are limited.

The cuts approved on Wednesday, which prompted a widespread outcry from riders, will save the authority about $93 million.

The authority has cut administrative costs by 15 percent and laid off hundreds of station agents, and Mr. Walder said on Wednesday that it was renegotiating contracts with its suppliers and trying to drive down labor costs.

The authority still plans to eliminate discounted fares for students, which would save $214 million, but that proposal was not considered by the board on Wednesday, adding to the sense that the worst was yet to come.

The authority’s only path toward generating significant revenue is a fare increase. Longtime transit planners believe that an increase of 10 to 12 percent — which would raise the base fare to about $2.50 — might be necessary to make up the gap. (Several have shared those thoughts with the chairman.)

“There’s definitely going to be a fare increase; now the question is will it be enough?” said Allen Cappelli, a board member. “Probably not.” He said that the board had not yet discussed the prospect of a bigger increase.

With discounts for multiple-ride MetroCards, the average fare paid by a subway rider was $1.47 in January, far less than the $2.25 base fare and 8 cents higher than the average ride in 1996.

“Based on a comparison of New York City to other major urban areas, there’s clearly elasticity in the fares,” said Kathryn S. Wylde, chief executive of the Partnership for New York City, a business group that Mr. Walder meets with regularly. “Fares could go up without losing ridership,” she added.

The 7.5 percent fare increase approved for next year was part of an attempt to create a regular pattern of increases for the New York City system that would roughly follow inflation, similar to a system in London, where Mr. Walder worked previously.

There was a growing sense among officials on Wednesday that straphangers would be facing more pain in coming months.

At a news conference, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg warned New Yorkers to “save your anger” for the authority’s next set of cuts. “This is just the beginning,” the mayor said. “The next round, I would think, would be much worse.”

Under the plan approved on Wednesday, the V and W trains will be eliminated and the M line will no longer run in Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. Bus riders will lose 34 routes, including 13 express ones. Several other bus lines will be truncated or rerouted.

The Long Island Rail Road will reduce service on several lines, and eliminate overnight service between its Atlantic Avenue terminal and Jamaica. Trains on the Port Washington line will run every hour, instead of every 30 minutes, except during rush hours.

Metro-North Railroad will eliminate a handful of trains.

“The only thing I fear more than the vote I have to cast today,” John Banks, another board member, said on Wednesday, “is the vote I’m going to be asked to cast in the near future.”

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2 Responses to “Transit Agency Approves Cuts, and More Bad News Looms – From the New York Times”

  1. Joe G Says:

    Entire subway lines eliminated…. in New York City.

    Since for automated metro systems there is little savings in cutting back service incrementally, whole lines have to be eliminated and fares raised dramatically, when the economy goes bad. Even in New York City.

    Wow.

    Zweisystem replies: You are dead right Joe!

  2. David Says:

    Um, the V and W trains are services…. not lines as we understand them. No tracks are being abandoned. For example, there will no longer be a W train, but the N and Q trains cover the same track.

    Zweisystem replies: Thank you for your contribution.

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