MTA passes 'Doomsday Budget' with fare hikes

The full MTA board approved a plan Wednesday that calls for fare increases and service cuts.
The MTA says the fare hikes are needed to help close a $1.2 billion budget deficit. MTA officials say the hikes and cuts could be avoided if state lawmakers back a last-minute bailout deal.
Without a rescue from the state Senate, the MTA board says it?s forced to go through with the hikes and service cuts.
Long Island Rail Road ticket prices will jump 24 to 29 percent depending on the destination. With the hikes, traveling from Mineola to Penn Station will cost an extra $50 per month and $600 more a year. To travel from Ronkonkoma to Penn Station will be $74 more per month and $888 more a year.
Under the plan, a single ride on city subways and buses will rise from $2 to $2.50. A 30-day MetroCard will go up $22, from $81 to $103. Long Island Bus fares will increase from $2 a ride to $3.50 a ride. Drivers can also expect toll hikes at eight MTA crossings including the Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges.
Outside MTA headquarters Wednesday, MTA customers protested as local officials pleaded for Albany to come through with money to save MTA customers from the hikes.
Lawmakers say they don't believe the MTA is in the financial straits it says it?s in. Minority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) is asking the MTA to open its books to prove it. He says the agency is basically asking for a blank check from lawmakers.
State lawmakers also say the rescue the MTA is counting on, the Ravitch Commission plan, isn?t much better than the budget passed Wednesday. That plan would impose a payroll tax on employers and raise tolls on East River bridges.
LIRR President Helena Williams says she hopes Albany?s reaction to the doomsday budget will prompt lawmakers to act.
MTA officials say they?ll revisit the issue and either reduce or eliminate the hikes if Albany comes up with the money. Meanwhile, Gov. David Paterson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver say they'll continue to work together to prevent the MTA from raising fares and cutting service. AP wire services contributed to this report
Long Islanders fed up with latest MTA hikes
MTA Budget DetailsTo watch the full hearing, go to Channel 612 on your iO digital cable box and select iO Extra.