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12/20/2012


Rail News: Passenger Rail
MTA: CEO Lhota to step down, board approves 2013 budget and fare hikes



Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Lhota submitted his letter of resignation, effective Dec. 31, to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo yesterday.

Lhota has served as MTA's executive director since November 2011, and chairman and CEO since January 2012. New York news media reported that Lhota resigned to consider running for mayor of New York City.

At its regular meeting yesterday, MTA's board elected member Fernando Ferrer to succeed Andrew Saul as vice chairman and serve as acting chairman after Dec. 31 until Lhota's successor is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the New York State Senate. MTA New York City Transit President Thomas Prendergast will serve as interim executive director after Dec. 31.

Also yesterday, MTA's board adopted a 2013 budget and four-year financial plan, which preserves the continuing roll-out of subway, bus and railroad service increases identified in spring, and adopts a fare and toll increase first proposed in October and amended in response to public comments, MTA officials said in a prepared statement.

The 2013 budget is balanced, but the four-year financial plan "remains fragile," they said.

The balance in large part is a result of the agency's "most aggressive internal cost-cutting ever undertaken, resulting in annual recurring savings of $809 million in 2013, which grow to more than $1.2 billion in 2016," MTA officials said.

The budget assumes small cash balances available at the end of 2013 and 2014, despite MTA's estimated $268 million in lost revenue during Hurricane Sandy. Plus, the budget assumes additional operating costs in 2012, resulting in additional debt payments of as much as $62 million attributable to infrastructure losses not recovered from insurance or federal disaster relief.

The fare and toll increases will take effect March 1. The increases vary depending on the service, trip length and time. For MTA Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad, most tickets will increase by an average of 8.2 percent to 9.3 percent.

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