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Albany passes MTA bailout plan, saving W and Z lines

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The New York State Assembly and Senate have passed legislation pulling back New York City’s mass transit system from the financial abyss, removing the threat of drastic service cuts and 20 percent to 30 percent fare hikes.

All that remain are Gov. David Paterson’s signature and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s emergency meeting Monday to adjust its budget and change its fare schedule to reflect the more moderate fare increases.

The legislation is expected to provide $2.3 billion a year through a payroll tax in the 12 counties the MTA serves and a variety of revenue-generating means, including higher fees for driver’s licenses and auto registration.

It will also mean a 50-cent surcharge on taxi rides in New York City.

The votes in both Democrat-controlled chambers lifted the threat of heavy hikes in subway and bus fares by substituting a raise of 10 percent and a 30-day unlimited ride MetroCard that will cost $89 rather $103.

The  MTA will also scrub its plan to shut down the W and Z subway lines and  eliminate perhaps as many as 25 bus lines.

The fare hikes will probably start in June.

The Assembly passed the bailout by a vote of 86-56 and the Senate approved it by a narrow margin of 32-29 with all the Republicans voting no. One GOP Senate member was excused from the vote.

The MTA’s financial plight has been worsening for months with a budget gap heading for $2 billion.

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