NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As CBS2 first reported Tuesday night, big budget cuts could be coming to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, impacting jobs and service. That is, unless the federal government steps in.
Wednesday morning’s budget meeting stressed the necessity of transit for getting essential workers where they need to go. They are worried that without massive amounts of financial aid riders could see cuts, longer wait times, and thousands of workers could lose their jobs, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported.
“This was undoubtedly one of the most difficult budgets the MTA has ever had to develop and one of the most unusual uncertain times. We are taking the approach of planning for the worst, but leaving room to adjust for the best,” MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye said.
At a virtual MTA meeting Wednesday morning, transit officials said without aid:
- More than 9,000 people could lose their jobs.
- Subways and bus service could be slashed by as much as 40%.
- Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North commuter lines could be slashed by 50%.
MTA board member John Samuelsen called on the agency to find another way out. Instead of cuts, he suggested either borrowing money or seeking new taxes from the state, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
“Certainly wreaking havoc on the riders of the MTA system and wreaking havoc on your workforce, which has just been through hell over the last year, is certainly a more undesirable option,” Samuelsen said.
Commuters at Penn Station said they understand how dire the situation is.
“It’s ridiculous. If they cut the budget nobody is going to ride the subways and life is not going to get back to normal,” subway rider Michael Hertz said.
“I think laying off thousands of employees for the MTA would be really devastating to the city,” Camila Manjarras added.
Ridership has been down dramatically since the coronavirus pandemic began, so even with federal aid it could cost more to ride the rails.
The MTA made plans to enact its biannual fare and toll hikes, which will go into effect early next year. The board is considering a number of options to raise fares on buses, subways, the LIRR and Metro-North by 4%. Tolls could go up as much as 8% or $6.70, Kramer reported.
Commuters will have an opportunity to weigh in on the increases at a series of public hearings next month.
The MTA has been asking for a bailout from the federal government. It did receive $4 billion in stimulus funds, but for the additional $12 billion to be approved it would likely need to pass through the Senate.
“We are clear-eyed about the obstacles to additional funding that remain in Washington, even under a (President Joe) Biden administration. Our nation faces the prospect of divided government, and if Senate Republicans maintain their majority and their position that the MTA and mass transit not be funded things may not change much at all,” Foye said. “But we’re cautiously hopeful that ‘Amtrak Joe’ might help clear it so that we can continue our core business of moving New York.”
Wednesday’s meeting was held just to outline of a cost-savings plan. A final vote takes place in December.
The MTA said even if it gets a bailout it will not be resuming 24-hour service until the pandemic is over.
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