Wave goodbye to the W subway.
The board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved a slew of service cuts today that include eliminating the W service from Brooklyn to Queens and cutting 34 bus routes, including 13 express buses. Several other lines will be re-routed or shortened.
The changes will save the MTA $93 million a year, part of an effort to dig out of a more than $400 million budget shortfall.
"We have a very very large hole to fill and we are turning over every stone to do that," says Jay Walder, the CEO of the MTA.
Walder warned the board that more work will need to be done, as another $400 million hole has opened in the MTA's budget.
"An $800 million shortfall caused solely by the deterioration of revenues to the MTA from taxes and by a $143 million cut imposed by the state is a hole that we have to fill," he says.
The cuts approved today include layoffs of 600 station customer service agents. Many spoke out during a public comment period before the vote to plead for their jobs. One station agent told board members she does more than sell MetroCards -- she saves lives.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned straphangers that this is likely not the end of the MTA's budget troubles, as lawmakers and the governor negotiate a budget that's due April 1.
"These aern't massive budget cuts. This is just the beginning," the mayor says. "These are the budget cuts in response to the old cutback in state subsidies to the MTA. The next round, I would think, would be much worse."
The cuts approved today will be phased in starting in June.