MTA unveils gloomy budget

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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced plans Thursday to cut service for Metro-North trains, buses and subways and increase fares in an attempt to close its $1.4 billion budget gap.

MTA Executive Director Eliot Sander says it may be necessary to increase the fare by 23 percent and lay off some 2,200 MTA workers to tackle the deficit.

"They will impact direct customer service and customer convenience and they will impact our work force," Sander says.

The proposed measures would impact thousands of Metro-North commuters in Westchester and the Hudson Valley, many of whom work in Manhattan.

Sander says from the suburban line to the subway, straphangers will pay more for increasingly crowded trains, longer wait times and less frequent service.

The MTA?s cost-cutting plan will also hurt thousands of students at the College of Westchester in White Plains, says Assistant Dean Mary Beth DelBelzo.

"They are having trouble getting to school because of the fare hike,? she says. "It's tough already."

The MTA board is expected to vote on the 2009 budget Dec. 17. If approved, the changes will go into effect in June.

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