The Metropolitan Transit Authority has taken drastic steps to balance its budget, voting to shut down 24 New York City bus lines and reduce service and maintenance throughout the metropolitan region beginning May 31 unless the state legislature steps in. The cuts will come with fare increases of 18% or more for the system’s 8.5 million daily riders.
The authority’s board of directors voted 12-1 on Wednesday to support the changes, which are intended to help plug a $1.2 billion budget gap for the coming fiscal year.
Subway and bus fares will rise from $2 to $2.50 with an unlimited monthly MetroCard climbing from $81 to $103. Fares for the Long Island Rail Road and MetroNorth service on the East of Hudson lines will increase from 18-30%. MetroNorth’s West of Hudson service will rise as much as 72%. More than 1,000 MTA employees will lose their jobs.
MTA commissioners who support the new measures said they are a last resort to reserve cash to pay for everything from bus fuel to conductors’ salaries. Elliot Sander, executive director of the MTA, said the measures are needed to prevent the system from returning to “the disorder and dysfunction of the 70s and 80s.”
But transit advocates and Commissioner Norman Seabrook (see photo above), who cast the lone dissenting vote on all changes, said the impact on the public is too great to justify support for the measures.