Sunday, February 9, 2014
MTA Discovers $1.9 Billion Surplus In Its Budget, Still Planning on Hiking Fares This past Friday the MTA announced that it had uncovered a nearly $2 billion surplus in its operating budget. How about those scheduled fare hikes in 2015 and 2017? Despite the discovery of the surplus, MTA officials plan to go ahead with the fare hikes anyway. In his report released Friday, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli called the MTA's financial situation "much improved," finding that the extra $1.9 billion in savings coming over the next four means the transit agency has largely emerged from Recession-era shortfalls. The agency's audit found that lower contributions to pension funds, lower energy costs, savings on health insurance, and debt service were responsible for the extra money in its offers, according to CBS New York. Yet the MTA still plans on instituting fare hikes over the next four years, with current projections putting a single ride fare at $3.00 by 2017, citing the volatility of tax revenue. "They are revenues that we aren't sure we are going to repeat. Some big tax collections and things like that," MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg told the New York Post. DiNapoli's analysis is openly skeptical of the MTA's position, pointing to fare hikes since 2007 that far outpace the inflation rate. "In recent years, the MTA has placed less emphasis on new cost-reduction initiatives even as it continues to press for large fare and toll increases," reads one section of the report. One especially galling example: between 2007 and 2013, the price of the 30-day MetroCard increased 47 percent, three times the inflation rate during that period. The report lists the various capital improvement project the MTA has planned over the coming decade, including the Second Avenue Subway and upgrades to the existing system, expenses covered in part by fare hikes.