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MTA Cost Cutting Continues

The MTA continued working to overhaul how it does business- and close a nearly $800 million budget shortfall in 2010 – by announcing an additional $115 million in agency budget reductions Thursday. These cuts were designed to limit impact on customers, but some changes to cleaning, maintenance and customer service may be noticeable.

These savings will be achieved by improving inventory management, further reducing administrative staffing levels, and select changes to cleaning, maintenance and customer service. Approximately 1,000 additional positions will be eliminated across the MTA through a combination of the removal of vacant positions, attrition and layoffs.

Much of the savings will result from changes to materials management procedures. Instead of purchasing new rails, ties and spikes to replace old sections of track in its yards, New York City Transit will now re-use sections of mainline track that are being retired but are still useful for lightly used sections of tracks in yards. Because any cash that is tied up in inventory cannot be used for other purposes, Metro-North Railroad is lowering the minimum supply level at which supplies are reordered.

Other cost savings will result from changes to the MTA's operations support activities, which do not affect the frequency of service provided on the MTA's trains and buses. New York City Transit will reduce its terminal subway car cleaning from once per round trip instead of once after each one-way trip. The Long Island Rail Road plans to close ticket windows at Amityville, Port Jefferson, and Patchogue, and reduce ticket window hours of service at Atlantic Terminal, Hempstead and Long Beach. It will also shorten some trains to save power and maintenance costs. Metro-North Railroad will reduce the number of ushers at Grand Central Terminal, and will close the ticket windows at Yonkers, and pending approval from the Connecticut Department of Transportation, Westport, Fairfield and New Canaan.

"There will be no degradation of safety and reliability levels as a result of these actions," said Tom Prendergast, President of MTA New York City Transit, which is implementing a number of the changes. "But given the magnitude of the budget gap that must be closed, there is no way we can promise that there will be no impact to the experience our customers have with us."

The budget reductions announced this week were just the latest in a series of efforts to close a budget gap created by State cuts and deteriorating tax revenues. The MTA had previously announced initiatives to eliminate 15% of administrative payroll ($49 million savings in 2010), renegotiate with its suppliers ($18 million savings in 2010), and eliminate or defer half of the projects in the 2010 operating budget ($40 million savings). Initiatives to reduce overtime and consolidate functions across the MTA will be announced soon.