As Service Cuts Kick In, MTA Deficit Keeps Growing

M_and_R_train_funeral.jpgReports of the death of the M and R train in 2009 were greatly exaggerated, but tomorrow's aren't. Image: J Bary via Flickr.
MTA service cuts are here. With reductions taking effect on Sunday, tomorrow marks the last day of operation for weekday-only services like the V and W trains, and many express buses. And even as transit supporters mourn current losses, more cuts loom on the horizon.

Riders on the V and W, and the M6, M18, M27, M30, B23, B37, B39, B51, B71, B75, B77, Q74, Q75, Q79, Q89, Bx14, Bx25, Barretto Park Pool Shuttle, S60 and S67 buses will be taking new routes to work starting next week, but tomorrow, some will be seeing off their old commute in style. Street theater funerals are planned for both subway lines; details are here for those who want to attend. 

The dozens more routes where service will be less frequent or skip nights and weekends (all listed here) won't get such send-offs, but they do represent tens of thousands more New Yorkers who will find it harder to get to where they need to go.

Even so, the MTA budget remains unbalanced. Real estate tax revenues have come in $105 million short, Crain's reported yesterday. Plus there's another $144 million hole in the budget as of last week, when the agency agreed to continue providing students with free and discounted MetroCards without extra help from the city or state. Now other working-class transit riders have to bear that burden.

With revenues still in flux, it's too early to say whether tomorrow's transit funerals will be just the first, or if another round of service cuts is coming down the track. The MTA says it will look to close its deficit with buyouts and layoffs, a crackdown on overtime costs, and possibly a larger-than-expected fare increase, according to Crain's.

As always, remember: It didn't have to be this way.