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Not enough money, time for transit upgrades: MTA

By PHILIP NEWMAN

The MTA had pledged to spend $30 million on an array of service upgrades, with improvements on 11 lines citywide including G, R and W subway lines, more frequent weekend trains on the No. 7 as well as new bus routes in Queens and throughout the city. The real estate downturn also canceled planned additional service on the Long Island Rail Road.All of the promised upgrades will be held up by at least three months and launched only when the MTA's financial position improves from real estate transactions, the MTA said. MTA Chief Financial Officer Gary Dellaverson told the MTA Finance Committee Monday that financial conditions have grown worse since MTA Chief Elliot Sander proclaimed March 1 in his State of the MTA address that things looked good for the upgrades. What caused the downturn was the opposite of what has fueled the MTA's finances for the past few years-the red hot real estate in the New York City and metropolitan area. “Unfortunately, it's a very volatile and unpredictable market,” Dellaverson said, speaking of the real estate market. The MTA had thrived in recent years on its cut from a variety of fees, taxes and other add-ons from thousands of real estate transactions during a sizzling market in and around New York City. But these transactions have cooled. Dellaverson said the MTA's receipts from realty transactions were down dramatically for the past two months after a strong January report. But Dellaverson said the transit improvements promised only a few weeks ago have not been canceled- only postponed. “Trying to predict what the future is in these volatile markets is something that I can't do,” Dellaverson said. “I think that three months is an appropriate time to watch it.”Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.

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