MTA Doomsday Derailed As Albany Reaches Tentative Deal; No Tolls On East and Harlem River Bridges


mta-subwayA tentative Metropolitan Transportation Authority ‘doomsday’ deal to head off big fare hikes and drastic service cuts was reached by New York State Senate Democrats in Albany last night. State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith shared the goods news for MTA commuters after a marathon meeting with two fellow dems who stood in the way of the bailout. Craig Johnson of Nassau County and Brian Foley of Suffolk are now on board. “This bill is going to make sure that service is maintained, that jobs are not lost, but they’re going to change the paradigm by which they model the MTA,” said Smith.

What changed their minds? Gov. David Paterson’s offer to have the state provide $60 million to shield affected school districts from an employer funded payroll tax.

Here’s the big picture; the Senate bailout package includes:

* No tolls on the East and Harlem river bridges

* An 8-percent fair hike, individual tickets going from $2 to $2.25 instead of $2.50, monthly passes going from $81 to $88 instead of $103

* A payroll tax of 34 cents per $100, but businesses in Orange, Putnam and Dutchess counties would pay only 25 cents.

* A 50-cent taxi surcharge only on yellow cabs

* A $25 motor vehicle registration surcharge

* A driver license surcharge of 25-to-30 percent

* A 5-percent increase in the auto rental tax

In the interest of increased transparency, the MTA will also be forced to make public the perks it gives to its executives.

The bill now needs approval in the Assembly.

“If the bill accomplishes the goal we will give it a serious look and hope to be able to pass it,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said earlier Monday.

Officials said they want to pass the bill this week.

If this latest proposed bill doesn’t pass, it’ll be back to the negotiating table. Lawmakers will still have until May 31 to figure things out before those doomsday provisions kick-in.

{WCBS-TV/Elisha Newscenter}