Subsidies to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from New York City and New York State have remained flat since 1990, according to a report released last week by the New York City Independent Budget Office.

The cash-strapped authority has called for more state and city aid, but those requests received cool responses. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said that the city subsidies total $1.2 billion whereas the MTA reported last month that it expects to receive $858 million from all state and city sources combined in 2008, the report said.

The discrepancy comes from what is considered a subsidy. According to the IBO, the city subsidized the MTA to the tune of $347 million in 2007. That amount included an operating assistance grant, reimbursement for part of the fares for school children, commuter rail station maintenance, reimbursement for a portion of the cost of reduced fares for seniors, and a portion of the cost of a program that provides transportation for riders with disabilities.

The IBO did not include debt service on the city’s contribution to the MTA’s capital program because the city’s contribution comes from bond proceeds rather than pay as you go. It also did not include the cost of policing the transit system or payments to the MTA Bus Co. because the city had previously subsidized seven private bus companies before the MTA took over those routes in 2006.

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