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MTA Says Sandy Caused More Than $5 Billion In Damages But Straphangers Won't Have To Pay

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TWC News: MTA Says Sandy Caused More Than $5 Billion In Damage, Straphangers Don't Have To Pay
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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Wednesday that through FEMA and insurance payouts, as well as cost-cutting measures of its own, the city's straphangers won't have to help pay for any of damages from Hurricane Sandy. NY1's Tina Redwine filed the following report.

MTA chairman Joseph Lhota promised service improvements planned for next year will go forward and there will be no fare or toll hikes beyond those already planned for next year and 2015.

But the storm's hit on the authority's budget is deep.

The MTA estimates the storm caused more than $5 billion in damage -- most of it to infrastructure.

It will cost $600 million dollars just to rebuild the South Ferry-White Hall station complex in Lower Manhattan.

The MTA estimates that overtime and lost revenue because of the storm added up to $265 million.

The authority said federal money and insurance will cover at least 75 percent of the bill.

"I have an enormous amount confidence in the federal government that we will receive a substantial amount of money to cover what's necessary to get us back to the condition of functionality we had the day before the storm," Lhota said.

Lhota said he will find more than $100 million in internal savings. But that could still leave the MTA footing nearly a billion dollars short-money that it will have to borrow.

That's a stat that worries rider advocates.

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said it will cost the MTA $62 million a year for 30 years to pay back.

"Usually the rider is the chief one that's tapped for those funds," he said.

Regardless of what gets reimbursed, the MTA said it has to start borrowing soon to rebuild because it will possibly have to wait years for the federal and insurance money to come in.

The MTA said the board will vote early next year to authorize the short term borrowing.

What remains unknown is how much more the MTA will have to spend to harden the system against future disasters. But it's an amount that is likely to be in the billions. ClientIP: UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP