We know the MTA is facing a financial crisis; we know the threat of a second fare hike in two years looms large; and we know the MTA has planned to cut services — but not yet service — to address what is now being labeled a $700-million budget gap.
Today, we find out that New York City Transit has been ordered to cut $61 million off its budget. Those cuts will come mainly from maintenance and service jobs. Much of that figure will come in the form of bureaucratic maneuverings. Jobs currently unfilled will remain unfilled while few others will lose their positions.
Matthew Sweeney, amNew York’s transportation writer, has more:
The search for savings is part of an overall Metropolitan Transportation Authority goal of reducing costs by 6 percent over the next four years as the agency faces a financial crisis. For its part, NYC Transit has projected saving $251.3 million from 2009 through 2012. The bulk of the savings in 2009 — $39.4 million — will come from reductions to maintenance…
Transit officials worked to reassure straphangers yesterday, saying in a statement that none of the proposed savings “will have an impact on safety, security or customer service levels.”
While Sweeney’s article notes that “subway service has been on a gradual but steady decline,” to me, this seems like a baseless assertion. The MTA has gone out of its way to stress that they would rather cut maintenance and upkeep positions before taking an axe to frequency of trains. In fact, NY1 reports that the MTA is doing just that.
According to reports, the services cut will include 12-year upgrades for buses, numerous platform controllers in the subways and efforts to fight strachiti along some of the more vandalism-prone lines. For those of us relying on the subways to take us to and from spots in New York, this news is guardedly optimistic, but the system suffers from it. We’ll see the same old train service, but an aging and ugly system badly in need of physical upkeep and upgrades will continue to deteriorate.
Critics of the MTA’s cuts will think back to the 1970s when the system fell out of its state of good repair, but for now, the MTA is dedicated to maintaining subway cars and track beds in that state of good repair. The rest of the system, however, will continue to slide, but as long as the trains run and as long as the system is safe from crime, the aesthetics can take second place to the system operation. For now.