Governor David Paterson, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith announced last night that they'd reached an agreement to bail out the cash-strapped MTA. Through a combination of new taxes and fees (a regional payroll tax for which schools are reimbursed, increased vehicle-registration fees, a taxi surcharge, and an auto-rental tax), the government expects to stave off the massive fare hikes that previously seemed inevitable. Under the new deal, individual rides will cost $2.25, up from the current $2, and a monthly MetroCard will likely hit $89 from the current $81. The nearly twenty bus routes and late-night subway services that had been threatened appear to be safe at the moment, and the Daily News' Juan Gonzalez points out that one of the silver linings of the bailout is that its wording will include legislation insisting on independent audits, more transparency, and accountability for the notoriously secretive and spendthrift MTA. Maybe when this hastily prepared temporary solution falls apart in a year, we'll actually know how to fix it for real.
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