The MTA may be forced to raise fares and tolls higher than planned unless it cracks down on unnecessary costs and inefficiency, according to a report by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
“The MTA has to squeeze out every penny of wasteful spending,” DiNapoli said. “Mass transit has to be affordable for working New Yorkers. The MTA should focus on eliminating waste rather than cutting service and raising fares.”
He pointed out that his office had found “administrative redundancies and outside contracts where savings can be achieved.” He also said MTA Chairman Jay Walder had made some progress in trimming inefficiencies but more action was needed.
Indeed, Walder has talked and written for weeks on what has already been done and what he said is in the works to “make every penny count” at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
“We’re overhauling how we do business,” Walder said.
While the MTA is making progress closing a $756 million budget gap, the comptroller estimated that a $319 million gap remains in the current year. “Moreover, the gap could grow to $405 million, depending on the success of certain gap-closing measures,”DiNapoli warned.
Napoli said next year’s gap already totals an estimated $537 million and could reach $860 million without aggressive measures to cut unnecessary spending and waste.
The MTA has proposed raising fares and tolls by 7.5 percent by Jan. 1, 2011, which would generate $405 million that year and by another 7.5 percent by Jan. 1, 2013.
“Unless the MTA successfully reduces costs or obtains additional government aid, fares and tolls may increase sooner or faster than now planned,” the report said.
DiNapoli’s report also said:
1. MTA spending has grown at an average annual rate of 7 percent in the past five years, more than twice the rate of inflation.
2. The MTA’s debt totals $27.5 billion, 54 percent higher than it was five years ago. Debt services totaled $1.4 billion in 2009 and are projected to reach $2.2 billion by 2013.
3. Since 2002 the MTA has raised fares and tolls by nearly 44 percent.
Meanwhile, the long-dreaded service cuts are scheduled for June 25 when the V and W subway lines are to be shut down and followed with the cutting out or curtailment of dozens of bus lines and shortened or rerouted subway lines.
Other changes and cutbacks are to take place in the following weeks and months.
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledge
©2010 Community News Group
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