At mid-year, the region's transportation agencies are showing the strains of a recession that has cost New York City almost 100,000 jobs over the past year.

At mid-year, the region's transportation agencies are showing the strains of a recession that has cost New York City almost 100,000 jobs over the past year.

The downturn has translated into lower ridership on buses, trains and subways and less commercial traffic on toll roads and bridges — and big hits in the revenue column.

"I normally don't notice "¦ but last Monday I was surprised at the number of parking spots that were still open after the morning rush, one-fifth to maybe a quarter in the main area," said Maggie Bergara, who commutes from Metro-North's station in Salisbury Mills.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Metro-North's parent agency, says fare and toll revenue from buses, trains, subways, bridges and tunnels is down 1.4 percent, or $30.3 million, through May against 2009 budget projections.

For the first five months of this year versus the first five last year, ridership on Metro-North alone is off 2.7 percent east of Hudson and 4.8 percent west of Hudson.

But the MTA, which relies heavily on real estate and other taxes, is more worried about the weak commercial and residential market. Through June, real estate tax receipts were 57 percent, or $250 million, below budget.

Revenue from the recent fare and toll increases won't start to register for another month and revenue from the controversial new payroll tax that is the centerpiece of the state's $2.26 billion bailout of the MTA won't start to arrive until November.

In the interim, the agency has borrowed $600 million to meet expenses, its first foray into the short-term bond market since 1996, according to spokesman Aaron Donovan. The bonds will mature Dec. 31.

"We expect to have a balanced budget in 2009," said Donovan, adding the MTA will release a new four-year financial plan this week.

The wobbly economy has also had an impact on ridership at Short Line, the commuter bus company, and NJ Transit, although neither operator could provide hard numbers immediately.

Short Line raised fares in May, in part to pay for a new union contract that followed a strike last year. The new fiscal year at NJ Transit started July 1, however, without an increase in train, bus and light rail fares despite a $62 million cut in state aid.

"We have cut administrative costs to the lowest proportional level in NJ Transit history," said Richard Sarles, the agency's executive director, in explaining how they avoided a hike.

At the Port Authority, ridership on PATH dropped 3.5 percent in the first six months of this year in comparison to the same period in 2008. Traffic at its six bi-state crossings fell 3.1 percent but truck volume is off 11.2 percent and truck tolls $3.6 million.

"The Port Authority is not recession-proof and these numbers prove that out," said Executive Director Chris Ward. "That is why we must continue to make tough spending decisions."

The New York State Thruway Authority and the New York State Bridge Authority are seeing similar double-digit declines in commercial traffic, 12 percent and 10.4 percent, respectively.

At the same time, both agencies have seen modest rebounds in passenger traffic — particularly leisure travelers. Volumes for the first half of this year are only 1.3 percent and .05 percent below those of the first half of last year.

"We're guessing this is due to gas prices dropping from those $4-plus levels," said John Bellucci, the Bridge Authority's spokesman.

There's no question, however, that the economy is responsible for 216,068 fewer trucks using the agency's five bridges through June — including 165,254 that didn't take Interstate 84 across the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge.

Bellucci added bridge tolls, unchanged since 2000, are still not scheduled to rise before 2011. And the Thruway Authority finds itself in the black at mid-year thanks to toll increases last year.