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MTA plans no fare hikes, service cuts in 2010 budget

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The MTA, teetering on the edge of a financial abyss only a few months ago, plans no fare hikes or service cutbacks next year.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials said the agency could even possibly end up with an ever-so-slight surplus — if financial conditions go the way the agency’s financial officials hope.

“I think the news is that the budget is balanced on the head of a pin for the next few years,” MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger said last week. “If the wind doesn’t blow too hard, we might just make it through.”

The MTA released its budget for 2010 at its monthly board meeting July 29 and it included no fare increase or cuts in bus, subway or commuter rail service.

But revenue from taxes and fees from real estate transactions, on which the MTA had thrived for years, has plummeted, said Gary Dellaverson, chief financial officer of the MTA.

And the number of subway and bus riders has fallen by 3 percent from that of a year ago.

The MTA finances are precarious in part because estimates depend on what happens in such areas as the housing market and the cost of fuel.

The 2010 budget calls for no fare hikes, but fares are scheduled to rise by 7.5 percent in 2011 and 2013.

Dellaverson, who presided over an exhaustive Pilot Point presentation of the MTA’s financial condition, described the plunge of taxes from the city’s long-sizzling realty market as “just breathtaki­ng.”

The MTA has already planned $65 million worth of measures to cut spending, like delaying painting of subway stations and layoffs in many departments.

The agency got a nearly $3 billion bailout from the state Legislature in May, thus saving the MTA from going ahead with its 200-page doomsday plan to cut hundreds of jobs, raise basic subway fares to $2.50 and carry out service cutbacks that would have abolished two subway lines and eliminated dozens of bus lines.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.

Posted 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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