NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There was an urgent cry for help Wednesday from the MTA.

It says it is facing a system-wide crisis if it doesn’t get help.

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The coronavirus pandemic has put the transit agency in deep financial trouble.

The MTA is threatening deep cuts. It’s a tactic to jog the feds into action, reported CBS2’s Dave Carlin, the MTA says it is no bluff. Without money from Washington, things get ugly.

A painfully scaled-back transit system may be the only way out of the catastrophic financial mess the COVID-19 pandemic is causing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.


Cuts must come say MTA leaders who warn that nothing is off the table.

“We are in the midst of a once-in-100-years fiscal tsunami, which has left our infrastructure intact but demolished fully 40% of our revenues,” MTA Chairman Patrick Foye said Wednesday.

The MTA projects a deficit of more than $16 billion through 2024, and without big help from the feds, may roll out workforce reductions, more service cuts, more stalled improvements and higher tolls.

But to start, the MTA tightens up payroll and uses fewer outside advisors.

“Overtime spending reductions, consulting contract reduction, and other non-personal expenses,” said MTA CFO Bob Foran.

But that’s only a start. That won’t cut deeply enough as ridership remains low. This past Monday saw 2.2 million subway riders, compared to the seven million daily riders this time last year.

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Some riders told Carlin that if fixing the MTA means big service cuts, layoffs, and fare and toll hikes, their response would be “SEE YA!”

One lifelong New Yorker said it’s time to move.

“I just want change, that’s it.”

“So you may not stick around? So you might not stick around to see it?” Carlin asked

“No, I might not. I hope,” was the reply.

“They keep going up and up and up, and people are struggling especially with this pandemic pandemic. They’re struggling and it’s hard,” said Midtown resident Jackie Edwards.

The feds ponied up $3.8 billion dollars for the MTA back in March – again, not enough.

The MTA is angling for a big cut of a wide ranging multi-trillion dollar relief plan being debated in Congress.

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Look for even tougher talks on this issue between now and December.