"The riders and the taxpayers have done their part," Hevesi said in a report last week. "It's now up to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to deliver on its promise to implement management improvements."He pointed out that "while the state's contribution is larger than previous capital programs, the MTA continues to rely heavily on debt to finance its capital programs." Hevesi's report said new and unexpected money from the state is the main factor allowing the MTA to fund its operating and capital budgets next year.Among positive financial factors for the MTA were a larger-than-expected cash balance left over from 2004, higher than projected tax revenues and reduced pension contributions in the New York City Employees Retirement System."But management must remain vigilant in making improvements to their operations," Hevesi said.The service cuts to which Hevesi referred had been part of a contingency plan of the MTA. The plan included cuts in late-night service involving trains running at 30-minute rather than 20-minute intervals as well as abolishing some bus routes and other changes.But skyrocketing debt brought on by years of borrowing make the MTA's plight starting in 2008 appear less secure, Hevesi said.For example, he warned that labor agreements between the MTA and its unions begin to expire in December 2005, the MTA could be forced into more borrowing if voters reject a statewide transportation bond act which would otherwise allocate $1.45 billion to the MTA, the economy could stall and "energy costs increased by 13.7 percent last year remain volatile."Hevesi, a longtime critic of the MTA, acknowledged the efforts of MTA Executive Director Katherine Lapp to carry out budget reforms and steps to reduce costs since last October.Hevesi praised Lapp for imposing a hiring freeze for non-safety and non-critical operating jobs and mentioned that the MTA board hired a consulting firm to look into corporate naming of MTA assets as well as other attempts to reduce costs.Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at news@timesledger or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138
©2005 Community News Group
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