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Queens Chronicle

Looming fare hikes may not be enough

MTA still must settle with unions

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Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 11:46 am, Thu Oct 11, 2012.

Fare and toll hikes set to take effect in March were predicted by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in November 2011.

But the same plan also set a 2013 budget that was predicated on none of the agency’s 65 unions getting pay raises for three years.

Unions have been saying since November that the proposal not acceptable. Now published reports are saying that final settlements with the unions, more than 60 of which are operating without contracts, could mean a nine-figure deficit that would have to be closed with fare hikes or cuts in services on top of the $450 million in hikes already planned.

The planned hikes are thought to include raising bus and subway fares fro m$2.25 to $2.50, and elimination of 7 percent discounts for MetroCard users who buy $10 or more in rides at a time.

Increases in bridge tolls and fares on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North also are in the offing.

“There is some budget risk in our projection, but it is a projection we are counting on,” said MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg. “That, given an additional $450 million in fare and toll revenue we believe will keep our budget in balance.”

Lisberg said the zero-percent for labor increase is a net figure. MTA officials have said raises would have to be offset by productivity and workplace rule concessions.

Local 100 of the Transit Workers Union represents more than 38,000 workers. Union spokesman Jim Gannon [no relation to the author] said the MTA has not backed off its basic net zero proposal, but that both sides are scheduled for more talks next week.

“If you look at last year, the economy was in bad shape,” Gannon said “We feel this is a better negotiating atmosphere ...We feel we can seek a modest cost of living increase.”

The TWU 100 represents train operators, train and track maintenance workers, token booth clerks and others.

 

7 Train takes weekends off

In what seems to have become an annual MTA ritual, the No. 7 subway line will not run from Queensboro Plaza to Times Square for three weekends in October and an additional two in November due to necessary construction.

Service will shut down from 11:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday morning every weekend in October, as well as Nov. 9 to 12 and Nov. 16 to 19, the MTA announced on Sunday.

The blame falls on the ongoing maintenance of the Steinway tunnel, which carries the 7 train from Queens to Manhattan under the East River.

The transit agency said the shutdown will allow for infrastructure maintenance and the installation of communications equipment, which it said would be a three-to-four year project.

The transit headache will affect an estimated 280,000 commuters, who will have to find alternate routes on the E, F, N, Q or R trains. Free shuttle buses will be running from the Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue and Queensboro Plaza subway stations, and the S shuttle will continue to run overnight.

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