Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget includes a “hidden” $65 million cut to state funding headed for the MTA, the Daily News reports. The $244 million in funding–compared to $309 million in 2016–represents a 21 percent drop in money from the state’s general fund intended to shore up the MTA after a drastic 2011 payroll tax cut on regional businesses the transit agency serves. The funding cut comes on the heels of data that show subway delays have more than doubled during that same time period according to the New York Times.
The 21 percent cut would hit the MTA in the company of an impending fare hike and growing straphanger dissatisfaction. As 6sqft recently reported, according to a review of MTA data the subway system’s reliability has slid “significantly” after a period of improvement, with delays up to over 70,000 per month, up from about 28,000 a month in 2012 and with trains arriving behind schedule more than half the time. Mechanical performance is part of the problem: The average distance subway cars travel before a breakdown is down to 120,000 miles from a robust 200,000 in 2010.
Overcrowding is another contributor as the century-old subway attempts to shuttle six million passengers every day, up from four million in the 1990s. A mere 67 percent of trains get to their final station within five minutes of scheduled arrival time on weekdays with shining examples like the No. 2 and No. 5 lines crawling in on schedule only 40 percent of the time.
Riders may blame Mayor Bill de Blasio for their subway misery, but the MTA is controlled by Gov. Cuomo, who has been enthusiastic about the opening of the Second Avenue subway and a $29.5 billion capital plan that includes buying new subway cars and upgrading stations, tracks and signals. The MTA hopes to replace 300 old cars with new models by July 2018; they’re sticking by their claim that a plan to add new signals will improve service and allow for more trains to run each hour, but as 6sqft wrote back in 2014, they expect that process will take at least 20 years.
MTA board member and director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign Veronica Vanterpool said the $65 million cut is is enough to impact service: “We don’t know how that drop will impact, but we know it will in some way.” State budget division spokesman Morris Peters didn’t explain why the contribution from the state’s general fund needed to be cut, but said that the MTA is actually getting more funding in the form of a $16.7 million increase from the previous year in tax revenue and other types of aid.
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