MTA Warns Budget Gap Could Cause 15 Percent Rate Hike

NEW YORK (AP) -

New Yorkers could face a 15 percent fare and toll increase if the state legislature doesn’t fund the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s $15 billion budget hole, a transit official said Monday.

The MTA’s $32 billion, five-year capital budget plan, which will fund critical improvements to the city’s subways, buses and trains, is only half-funded. If the agency is forced to fund the gap by issuing more debt, it would have to raise fares and tolls by 15 percent, MTA Chief Financial Officer Robert Foran said.

“I have to say if there is no resolution, if we do not receive adequate funding to carry us through at least … two years, we don’t have sufficient funds to keep the program going,” Foran said.

Foran was quick to note that he wasn’t suggesting that the board has discussed a fare increase, saying he was describing a hypothetical scenario. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who controls the MTA, has described the capital plan as “bloated,” which implies that he will expect significant cuts in order for it to pass the legislature.

Board members expressed frustration over the lack of action in Albany.

“This is a freight train coming at us,” said one, Jeffrey Kay. “We have a $32 billion problem. We don’t have a seat at the table. We have no choice but to then act on one thing only, which is by increasing the fares.”