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The chairman of New York's cash-strapped transit agency announced plans Tuesday to cut more than 1,000 jobs from the agency's 70,000-person payroll.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said in December it was facing a $383 million budget gap due largely to a cut in state aid and lower-than-expected revenues from a payroll tax that was enacted to fund public transportation.
The agency said Tuesday that the gap has grown by $378 million based on revised state revenue projections.
"The state's economic crisis demands that the MTA move quickly and decisively to cut costs, and that is exactly what we are doing," said Jay H. Walder, MTA chairman and CEO. "These layoffs are extremely painful, but we must live within our means and make the tough decisions that businesses and families across New York are making."
The cuts include laying off or reassigning some 500 subway station agents. The MTA had hoped to eliminate the jobs through attrition.
The station agents belong to Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, which has vowed to fight layoffs.
Felicia Fields, a station agent interviewed at the local's headquarters, said she fears that with just four years on the job she will be among those let go.
"How am I going to survive?" she asked. "I don't want to go back to public assistance."
Riders said that with reduced staffing levels the stations will be less safe.
"I feel for the people who are being laid off because they're doing an important job," Manhattan resident Ellen Weider said.
Walder said the MTA would also cut more than 600 administrative positions. Management employees will be offered a severance package.
The cuts are expected to save about $50 million.
"This is just the beginning of a comprehensive overhaul of how the MTA does business," Walder said. "We will be reducing overtime, consolidating redundant functions and working with suppliers to lower costs. We will not stop until I can say that every dollar the MTA receives is spent wisely."
The MTA operates New York City buses and subways as well suburban rail lines, bridges and tunnels.
The agency voted in December to close its budget gap -- which now stands at nearly $800 million -- by cutting some bus and subway lines and eliminating free passes for New York City schoolchildren.
The public will get a chance to sound off on the proposed service cuts at a series of hearings starting March 1.
Associated Press Television News reporter Bonny Ghosh contributed to this report.