New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority yesterday approved fare and toll hikes and service cutbacks to close a $1.2 billion budget gap as the Legislature failed to agree on a rescue plan.

"Neither the board nor the senior staff of the MTA would be advancing these measures if we had any other choice," executive director and chief executive officer Elliot Sander said before the vote. "The fare increases and service cuts that the board must approve today are the only major tools Albany has given the board to operate the transit system and keep those operations in the black."

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