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MTA Won't Use Stimulus Funds to Stop Cuts

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The MTA's chairman is resisting calls to use federal stimulus money to restore free student Metrocards and other service cuts planned for later this year.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and transit advocates say the MTA should use stimulus funds to fill a budget gap rather than eliminating several bus and subway lines. But at a hearing of a state Assembly committee, MTA Chairman Jay Walder virtually ruled out doing so, saying the money needs to be used exclusively for capital projects like the Second Avenue Subway. He even evoked Mayor Abe Beame's decision in the 1970s to use capital funds to prevent a fare hike.

"I think the result of that was to drive the transit system into the ground," Walder said.

Transit advocates say federal law explicitly permits transportation systems to apply 10 percent of their stimulus money to operating costs.