The Metropolitan Transportation Authority released its four-year budget proposal on Wednesday, and the numbers are ugly:
• 40 percent reduction in service on New York City buses and subways;
• the consolidation or elimination of city bus routes and frequency reductions on those that remain; and
• more than 9,000 jobs eliminated.
And the only way to avoid the transit armageddon is for Congress to approve a $12 billion bailout to offset the revenue lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The MTA continues to face a once-in-100-year fiscal tsunami and this is without a doubt one of the most difficult and devastating budgets in agency history,” MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye said in a statement issued by the MTA. “No one at the MTA wants to undertake these horrific cuts but with federal relief nowhere in sight there is no other option. As I have said, we cannot cut our way out of this crisis – we are facing a blow to our ridership greater than that experienced during the Great Depression. We are once again urging Washington to take immediate action and provide the full $12 billion to the MTA.”
“The numbers speak for themselves, we are approaching a point where these draconian options will have to be implemented to ensure our survival,” said MTA Chief Financial Officer Bob Foran. “Not receiving the billions we desperately need to survive would stunt the tangible progress we have made in service quality and infrastructure improvements. We can’t afford to let that happen.”
Higher-than-budgeted fare hikes and toll increases also are on the able. The full MTA Board will vote on the budget in December.
Should a federal aid package arrive afterward, the budget would be adjusted.
The Transport Workers Union of America Local 100, which represents many MTA workers, opposed the plan.
“The @MTA has options to borrow to cover 2021, when federal relief can save our mass transit system and the devastating impact of cuts on riders,” tweeted John Samuelson, international president of the TWO.
Betsy Plum, executive director of the Riders Alliance, also opposed the proposal in an email.
“Firing 9,000 workers and slashing 40% of subway and bus service would cost millions of New Yorkers several hours of commuting time each week and devastate the city for decades to come,” she wrote. “Like never before, New Yorkers are counting on our Congressional champions like Senator [Chuck] Schumer and Representative [Hakeem] Jeffries to save public transit.
“Failing to save transit at this pivotal moment is not an option. Should Congress fail to act, the MTA’s doomsday budget must be the absolute last resort. As Chairman Foye said, literally everything must be on the table. At the end of the day, Governor Cuomo must do all he possibly can to safeguard our transit system and New York’s future.”