MTA Still Broke; Will Raise Fares, Again, in 2013

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Adrian Fussell
Transit officials said Monday that the heavy snowfall late last year cost the MTA $14 million in lost revenues and $16 million in overtime hours spent clearing roads and subway tracks. (Meanwhile, the Bloomberg administration told the New York Times that they were still counting the costs of the storm, but that "the city's bill was certain to exceed $38.8 million.")

It gets worse. The Daily News wrote Tuesday that lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have proposed a national transportation spending cut of $1 billion, which includes a $150 million budget cut for the MTA. So what's next? Raising fares.

MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said Tuesday that another fare increase would take effect as planned in 2013, and that the transportation authority had no other plans to raise fares before that date.

The additional revenue would not be enough to close the $9.9 billion dollar gap in the five year capital funding plan, however. The Capital Program plans call for $28 billion to repair and replace aging components of the transit system as well as finish parts of the Second Avenue Subway line. As it stands, the MTA won't be able to pay for any of this work from 2012 to 2014."The last 3 years of the current plan don't have funding right now," Donovan said.

The fare increases from December of last year are expected to raise revenues by 7.5%, but the Wall Street Journal notes that the $11.3 billion budget for 2011 leaves the MTA with only an $8 million surplus. Even that amount "could easily disappear if state revenue falls off or the agency doesn't achieve the cost savings it expects."

Chief Financial Officer Robert Foran, a 20-year veteran of Bear Stearns, was brought in by the MTA in March of last year to help turn around the finances of a corporation facing a projected 2012 debt of $207 million, according to John Petro at the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy. Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that he will be retaining the services of the MTA Chariman Jay Walder and other top transit officials appointed under former Governor David Paterson. The executives will have to navigate a difficult course in 2011. The title of this year's budget: Financial Picture Remains Fragile with Many Risks.

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