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To save cash, MTA could make cuts to Select Bus Service, subway cleanings

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The plan to reduce cost include staff reductions, however the agency still plans to hire under its Subway Action Plan

The cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is looking for ways to save $562 million over the next few years and its planning to do so by halting the expansion of Select Bus Service in the outer boroughs, cutting subway car cleaning positions, and eliminating overtime payment to NYPD officers for extra far evasion patrol, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The MTA is expecting to save around $4 million annually by cutting increased fare-evasion patrol that results in the agency paying overtime to the NYPD; the agency also thinks that it could save $28 million over the next four years by postponing the expansion of the Select Bus Service into “transit deserts” in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx until 2021. Additionally, agency officials plan to save the agency $8.4 million annually by reducing staff at some terminals for subway car cleaning, and another $2.4 million could potentially be saved by reducing fare-evasion patrols on some select bus service routes.

According to the WSJ, internal emails highlight that MTA board members are worried about the measures being taken to reduce costs for the agency, despite still planning to hire more than 1,000 workers under the Subway Action Plan. The emails suggests that some board members were not aware of the specifics of the service-related cuts when MTA Chief Financial Officer Robert Foran presented the board with an overview of the plan in July.

Nevertheless, during an interview on Monday, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota stated that the reductions are not service cuts and that it is simply a “redeployment of resources.” He also highlighted that the MTA still intends to add more than 700 positions over the next few years.

“The financial plan was built with three ironclad requirements—maintenance of service levels, absolutely no layoffs, and avoidance of any unplanned fare/toll hike—all of which were accomplished,” said MTA spokesperson Jon Weinstein. “In fact, the headcount at New York City Transit is increasing– while hitting savings targets – which is allowing us to accomplish significant amounts of badly needed repairs and maintenance work.”

New York City Transit Authority president Andy Byford said in an August 3 email to board members that the reductions are “intended to be temporary in nature while the necessary funding and revenue stream discussions sort out.”