Without federal aid, MTA says subway and bus service could be cut by 40 percent
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Wednesday laid out a grim plan detailing service cuts and fare hikes that could be implemented without additional federal aid. Without at least $12 billion in funding from Washington, subway and bus service could be cut by up to 40 percent, a devastating blow to millions of New Yorkers and the city’s economy. During a board meeting on Wednesday, Chair Pat Foye said the coronavirus crisis has had a far larger toll on ridership and revenue than the Great Depression a century prior.
Foye called on Congress to act and said federal aid is the agency’s “literally only option for survival.” The MTA has requested $12 billion in aid to cover operating losses through 2024, but negotiations over the next COVID-19 relief bill have stalled in D.C.
“The survival of the MTA and the existence of millions of jobs in this region and across the country lie squarely in the hands of the federal government, the United States Senate to be specific,” Foye said. “Continued federal indifference and inertia on a COVID-19 relief bill will exact a horrific toll on the MTA, our heroic workforce, and millions of hard-working New Yorkers, who are our customers.”
Potential service reductions include cuts up to 40 percent across NYC subway, bus, and Staten Island Railway systems. The MTA warned on Wednesday that these cuts could result in subway wait times of 8 minutes between trains and 15 minutes between buses. Over 7,200 positions would be cut.
For Metro-North and Long Island Railroad, the MTA said service could be reduced by up to 50 percent, with trains running at 60- to 120-minute intervals.
Major projects under the 2020-2024 capital plan could be paused without aid, including the second phase of the Second Avenue Subway, Penn Station Access, accessibility upgrades, modernization of signals, a new electric bus fleet, and others.
Chief Financial Officer Robert Foran said already-planned fare and toll increases set for next year and 2023 could be increased. The MTA said it’s currently losing about $200 million per week.
The agency is facing a budget deficit of $16.2 billion through 2024 because of the pandemic. Ridership, which dropped by 90 percent during the height of the crisis in April, has yet to recover adequately, reaching just 25 percent of normal levels.