The numbers in today’s editorial in The Times are telling. In Carl Kruger’s State Senate district — one far away from the densely packed Manhattan — 33,000 of his constituents rely on transit on a daily basis while just 6000 drive. And yet, despite this glaringly obvious disparity — and protests in support of tolls — the Senate will not act on a permanent plan to fund the MTA.
In a board meeting this morning, the MTA Board did not paint a rosy picture of the future. While they could be accused of politicking, the transit agency will face a huge budget deficit if nothing is done to rescue them. Sewell Chan reports on the layoffs, fare hikes and service cuts that will come if Albany continues to stall:
With the State Senate balking on a financial rescue plan that would impose tolls on East River and Harlem River bridges to help close a mounting budget gap, officials at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority warned on Friday that if Albany does not act by March 25, they will have no choice but to order steep fare increases, impose “painful” service cuts, and lay off at least 1,100 employees.
“The situation is dire,” the authority’s chairman, H. Dale Hemmerdinger, said at a special meeting of the authority’s board. He described “25 to 35 percent increases in the cost of getting to work” and “serious and painful cuts in service.”
…The Friday board meeting was in large part held to place pressure on Albany to act.
“The Legislature has not been able to reach an agreement on the Ravitch Commission recommendation or any other solution on the M.T.A.’s fiscal crisis,” Mr. Hemmerdinger said. “It’s too soon to know what will happen, but with the March 25 board meeting rapidly approaching, it’s time for the board to refocus on the tough decisions that will have go be made to keep our budget balanced.”
So that’s that. Hopefully, this political move will help. If not, get ready to wait 20 minutes for your $2.50 ride on a dirty subway car. That is, after all, in the minds of the Senate, far better than tolling the precious East River bridges.