I’ll let the press release speak for itself:
The Board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today approved the agency’s budget for 2009, including service cuts and a 23% increase in revenue from fares and tolls. These measures were necessary to balance the budget and close a $1.2 billion deficit. Agency officials and board members expressed hope that the recommendations of the Commission appointed by Governor Paterson and chaired by Richard Ravitch would be implemented to return the MTA to stable fiscal footing and eliminate the need for these measures.
“Today we fulfilled our requirement to adopt a balanced budget within the constraints of existing resources, and those resources are simply not great enough,” said H. Dale Hemmerdinger, MTA Chairman. “Our fervent hope is that available resources will grow in the coming months, so that this budget can be amended before it is implemented.”
“I have called this budget draconian, severe, and extremely painful, and it is all of those things,” said Elliot G. Sander, MTA Executive Director and CEO. “We are deeply appreciative of Governor Paterson for convening the Ravitch Commission and of the Governor and Mayor Bloomberg for supporting its recommendations. The transit system is the engine that powers the state’s economy. Implementing the Ravitch recommendations will secure its future and act as a stimulus bill for New York State, and I hope our legislators will act quickly.”
So there you go. The clock is ticking. In March, the board will vote on the fare hike. In June, the hike and service cuts will be implemented. Now is the time to contact your representatives on the City Council and in Albany. Tell them to approve the Ravitch recommendations. Otherwise, we’ll all be paying the costs.
Reactions and more coming later.