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M.T.A. “Doomsday” Budget

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/18/nyregion/18transit.html?ref=nyregionFacing its worst financial crisis in decades, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved an austerity budget for 2009 on Wednesday that calls for painful cuts in transit service and a steep increase in fares and tolls.

The agency’s budget includes a 23 percent increase in fare and toll revenues, to start in June, and cuts in subway, bus and commuter rail service in much of the region, some of which would start earlier.

The focus now turns to Albany and the bailout plan proposed by Richard Ravitch, a former authority chairman, who led a state commission to address the authority’s fiscal woes. His plan would impose a regional payroll tax generating $1.5 billion a year and tolls on the East River and Harlem River bridges, which would raise $600 million more. The plan, if enacted, would limit next year’s fare and toll increases to 8 percent and would stave off most service cuts.

If the authority does not receive new sources of revenue, it seems likely that the base subway fare could rise to at least $2.50, from $2. A monthly unlimited-ride MetroCard could rise to more than $100, from $81.

The board voted 13 to 1 to approve the budget during a lengthy meeting at its Midtown headquarters. The meeting was disrupted by a man who took off his shoe and was hustled out by police who feared he was going to throw it at the authority’s chief executive, Elliot G. Sander. The man, Stephen A. Millies, was charged with disorderly conduct.


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