Monday, April 27, 2009

M.T.A. Budget Woes Go From Bad To Worse

The Senate Democrats are finally starting a conversation bill to address the M.T.A.'s massive budget deficit. They might want to add today's news from the transit authority to that talk, as things are even worse than what they seemed to be only a few weeks ago when the doomsday budget was voted on. We aren't just talking a little worse, this is on the scale of hundreds of millions of dollars.

From The NY Times:

Plummeting revenues from ridership, tolls and taxes mean that even after it raises fares by up to 30 percent and slashes service, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority faces a $621 million deficit this year, officials reported on Monday, as they presented a revised budget forecast. According to the new forecast, next year’s deficit will be more than $1 billion.

The authority’s financial outlook has become worse as the regional economy sinks deeper into an economic slump.

The authority has been hoping that the Legislature in Albany would pass a rescue package to help it balance the books this year and next year and provide long-term funding for its crucial capital program, which pays for the purchase of new buses and train cars and critical maintenance and modernization of the transit system.

The economy is putting the hurt on the M.T.A. in so many ways. Less riders and less real estate taxes, coupled with years of being debt-riddled by the legislature is making the situation extremely painful. As long as the state senate remains gridlocked by a few obnoxious and egotistical Conservadems within their ranks, the problems that confront straphangers will continue to mount. What the city needs is a comprehensive plan that funds the M.T.A.'s projects (with good oversight), keeps service going and trims the massive amount of debt that has been lying around. Without a solid plan, New Yorkers will be met with another fare increase, whether it be to $3.00 or more by the same time next year.