(Recasts, adds details)
NEW YORK, March 25 New York state's transit
authority approved a plan on Wednesday that will raise subway,
bus and suburban train fares by 20 to 30 percent and cut
service in a move to close a $1.2 billion deficit.
The plan approved by the Metropolitan Transportation
Authority will also raise tolls on Manhattan's bridges and
Several board members, who noted the legal requirement to
close the deficit, said they still hoped the state would cobble
together a revenue plan that would allow the fare hikes and
service cuts to be rolled back.
There is no "drop dead deadline" after which the cuts and
fare hikes cannot be rolled back, the board members said, when
asked how much time the state has to enact a rescue plan.
MTA Chief Executive Lee Sander warned that the fare hikes
and severe service cuts might not be enough to see the agency
through the economic downturn, which has caused the agency's
share of real estate and fuel taxes to decline.
"We may have to reforecast our annual revenues (soon) to
identify further savings in the light of hundreds of millions
of dollars of deficits," Sander said.
Under the plan, bus and subway fare in New York City will
rise 50 cents to $2.50, starting as soon as June 1, while
ticket prices for suburban rail commuters will rise as soon as
May for those who buy tickets over the Internet, officials
Hundreds if not thousands of transit workers could be laid
off, including subway station attendants.
Although tolls on bridges and tunnels were raised, the
bridges over the East and Harlem rivers will remain free.
(Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Leslie Adler)