The board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) unanimously approved their 2010 budget on Wednesday, which could mean service reductions for both the Long Island Rail Road and Long Island Bus if a compromise isn’t found.
Proposed cuts include the elimination of entire Long Island Bus routes and no weekend service on the West Hempstead branch of the LIRR. The Port Washington LIRR line could also be affected, as the plan is to reduce weekend and afternoon off peak service on the branch.
The MTA also proposed to cut the student discounts that have been provided to New York City students since 1948. Currently, 417,243 students receive free MetroCards and 167, 912 receive half-fare ones. Those who receive free transportation will have to pay half-fare by September 2010 and full price come September 2011.
The MTA, which is facing a $383 million budget shortfall, will hold public hearings on specific aspects of the plan and then vote again. That leaves an opening for an 11th-hour rescue. After these hearings they will vote again on the budget.
In the meantime, the agency’s new chairman, Jay Walder, said he’d work hard to cut wasteful spending. “We need to take the place apart,” he said.
The earliest that any of the service cuts could take effect would be the middle of next year.
“In short, we must take this place apart to find the efficiencies that will make it stronger,” Walder said. “We can’t do it fast enough to take off the table the things we’re talking about today, but this effort is our best chance to restore the MTA’s credibility and protect the critical services we provide to New Yorkers.”