MTA Chairman Jay Walder Testifies Before State Assembly Committee
By Gabriela Resto-Montero
MUNICIPAL DISTRICT — MTA Chairman Jay Walder reminded legislators that big ideas cost big money as he defended the MTA's slashes to service at a hearing on Thursday.
Following a budget shortfall of $343 million, the MTA approved service cuts in December which included eliminating reduced fare student passes, nixing the W and Z subway lines and getting rid of over 20 bus lines.
Assemblyman Richard Brodsky expressed his dissatisfaction with the service reductions, particularly focusing on the bid to drop student fare cards.
"We're going to deal with that in a timely way ... and we're very confident there's going to be a good outcome," Brodsky said during a break in the hearing, the Daily News reported.
In a rapid-fire exchange between Brodsky and the MTA chairman, Walder defended the board's refusal to dip into the federal stimulus money allocated for capital projects.
"We need to be careful about taking one-shot actions that leave us in a worse position," Walder said.
The service cuts wouldn't go into effect until July and require a public hearing, but the MTA board is currently reviewing the plan.
"I'm afraid I'll be unlikely to find an answer that is not painful, but I think we can find an answer that is defendible," Walder said of the cuts.
The MTA chairman also discussed new proposals at the meeting, including switching over to SmartCards for faster entry, boosting bus efficiency and integrating phone and email alerts for bus and train arrivals, among other items.
"I think that resources for the MTA are absolutely essential," Walder testified.
Assemblyman Brian F. Kavanagh, who represents parts of the Lower East Side and Midtown, registered his support for these plans, saying, "There are many of us who would like to get this in the mix and get it seriously funded."