Paterson unveils MTA bailout package

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New York Gov. David Paterson unveiled a plan Thursday to rescue the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is facing a $1.4 billion deficit next year.

Under the new plan, developed by a special state commission, subway commuters will see an 8 percent fare increase, making each ride $2.50, instead of the previously proposed 23 percent hike.

The plan also suggests eliminating service cuts and requiring drivers to pay tolls on the East River and Harlem River bridges. The commission had also recommended introducing a payroll tax that would apply to all business owners in the metropolitan area.

Speaking at a news conference in Manhattan, Gov. Paterson said it is a tough medicine needed to fix problems in a transit system that is the life blood of New York City.

?These are tough times,? Gov. Paterson said. ?Difficult choices are going to have to be made by legislators, by executives and even by the riders and the drivers in respect to the MTA.?

Westchester County officials say they expect the rescue plan will have some impact on local commuters, but aside from the fare increase, they do not yet know what that might entail.

Before any changes are implemented, the proposed MTA bailout package will go before the legislature, where support is not guaranteed.

For Gov. Paterson's press conference, go to your digital cable box and select iO Extra, Channel 612.

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