BROOKLYN - The MTA should hold off on raising fares for straphangers, according to a report released Monday by the state comptroller.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli outlined several reasons why the transportation agency should delay a proposed 6.5 percent hike on tolls and fares, starting in 2008.

DiNapoli said the MTA should wait until Gov. Eliot Spitzer releases the next state budget, which may include resources for mass transit. The report also suggests the MTA should wait for recommendations from the recently established congestion pricing commission.

The comptroller wants the agency to develop a long-term strategy for financial fitness with the city and state. "The MTA should put New York's commuters first," DiNapoli said.

The MTA will vote on the hike in December. If approved, fare hikes could start in early 2008 and again in 2010 to close budget gaps.

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