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NYS Comptroller Warns MTA Borrowing Could Mean More Fare Hikes

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is set to increase fares by 4 percent next year, but the hikes may have to be steeper, according to a new report.

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said "the MTA is in better financial condition thanks to its own efforts and a stronger economy," but other financial concerns loom and could put pressure on tolls and fares.

WEB EXTRA: Read The Full Report (pdf)

For now the economy has improved, ridership is up and operating budgets should be balanced through 2017, but new trains are needed and stations have to be repaired, WCBS 880's Sean Adams reported.

DiNapoli: MTA Still Faces Many Financial Challenges Despite Improvements

The MTA must find roughly $15 billion for construction and repairs over the next five years.

"Over the coming months, the MTA will have to work closely with its funding partners to close the $15 billion gap in its capital program," DiNapoli said. "Additional borrowing could increase pressure on fares and tolls, and while the MTA should look for opportunities for savings, deep cuts could affect the future reliability of the transit system and jeopardize expansion projects."

The report applauds some annual cost savings, but health care, overtime and liability claims continue to grow faster than revenue.

DiNapoli warned every $1 billion borrowed could mean a 1 percent toll and fare increase.

Fares are already going up 4 percent in 2015 and 2017.

An MTA spokesperson issued a statement saying, "The MTA network is a $1 trillion asset and is the engine that drives the New York economy. The comptroller's report emphasizes how critical it is for all the MTA's stakeholders to engage in a dialogue about how to fund the capital program to renew, enhance and expand the MTA network."

Straphangers were less than thrilled by the latest report.

"I would really hope they start getting things done and really finish these projects and clean it all up. That would make it worth it.  Otherwise, it's just too much," Lara Mircovic said.

"It's just kind of discouraging because it's our only form of transportation," said subway rider Danielle Gonzalez. "We have to use public transportation if we don't have a car."

"It's government incompetence," said subway rider David Mircovic. "Anything the government does is not going to work because there's no motive to make a profit."

"Obviously nobody wants a fare hike, but they need money to be able to repair the tracks otherwise the whole system is gonna collapse," another rider said.

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