M.T.A. Will Push to Run Subway Safely With Toll Plan Halted, Chief Says

The chief executive of the state agency that runs New York City’s subway and bus network said on Monday that the agency’s priority would be keeping the aging transit system operating safely now that an ambitious plan to improve it confronts a $15 billion shortfall.

The chief executive, Janno Lieber, said the agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, would emphasize “basic stuff to make sure the system doesn’t fall apart” after Gov. Kathy Hochul’s abrupt move last week to halt a congestion-pricing plan that was to finance capital projects.

Mr. Lieber, speaking at a news conference where he was joined by a group of grim-faced authority executives, said Ms. Hochul’s decision would force the M.T.A. to shrink its current capital budget, and could potentially affect its next budget and even ripple into day-to-day operations.

Among the future projects at risk was the next phase of the Second Avenue Subway line, he said. The authority will now have to scramble to hold onto a $3.2 billion federal grant it had secured to help pay for extending the line.

He also said the authority would “fight like hell” to avoid having to make service cuts that could plunge the city’s transit system into the kind of dysfunction that defined it in the 1970s and ’80s.

Mr. Lieber’s remarks on Monday were his first public statements about the implications of Ms. Hochul’s 11th-hour decision since she announced it last Wednesday, saying she had directed the authority to “indefinitely pause” the congestion-pricing program out of concern that it would “create another obstacle to our economic recovery.”

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