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NEW YORK CITY-The Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Monday said it faces a $621-million deficit for this year even with the 30% fare hikes and service cuts the agency’s board approved last month. Continuing declines in real estate taxes account for more than half the shortfall, according to figures released by the MTA.

A re-forecast of the revenues that had been assumed when the MTA board passed a budget last December showed that real estate taxes for the year will be $336 million less than originally forecast, while subway, train and bus fares and bridge and tunnel tolls will be down $221 million and state dedicated taxes will be $113 million less than the December budget assumed. In addition, increasing unemployment and higher fares have led the MTA to predict a 7.2% drop in usage of its facilities during 2009.

As a result, what was projected last December to be a $49-million surplus for ’09 turns into a deficit of $621 million. The projected deficit for 2010 balloons from $290 million to $1 billion, according to the MTA.

In a statement, MTA chairman H. Dale Hemmerdinger calls the re-forecast “terrible news for the MTA, our customers and the regional economy, and the MTA board will do everything in our power to protect the transit network. Without assistance from Albany, however, it will be extremely painful for everyone who relies on MTA services.” A vote in the state Senate on a rescue plan for the MTA could happen by Wednesday, according to published reports.

At present, fare hikes for buses and subways are scheduled to take effect on May 31, commuter rail fare increases will take effect on June 1 and bridge tolls will go up beginning July 11. For riders on the MTA’s Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North lines, the fare hikes will first be seen when June monthly passes go on sale in the middle of next month. Cuts in service will be phased in beginning in summer, according to the MTA.

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