09 Jul Airo Security Assert: Metropolitan Transportation Authority may eliminate entire
The alliance developed three scenarios for the MTA if faced with the reality of no federal funding. The first one envisions the elimination of lines like the 1, 2, 3; B, D, F, M; G; J, Z; 7; and Times Square shuttle.
Recent comments from MTA executives lend credibility to this scenario.
“Without a virtually immediate infusion of $4 billion in federal aid, the MTA cannot serve as the catalyst for economic growth that this city, state and country needs as the recovery continues,” MTA CFO Bob Foran wrote in an op-ed on the authority’s website. “Faced with losses that could exceed $10 billion over the next 18 months, our remaining options in the absence of federal assistance are dire.”
The other two scenarios developed by the Riders Alliance include local-only service with an across-the-board service cut of 50% and an elimination of all commuter rail and bus lines.
Federal funding is still a question mark. The Democrat-controlled House of Representative in May passed the Heroes Act, which would have allocated the necessary funds to the MTA, but the Republican-controlled Senate has shown no inclination to give the bill a vote.
“We are all looking to Congress now as the only savior, in particular to the U.S. Senate, who must act within the next month to save our transit system,” said Danny Pearlstein, president of the Riders Alliance.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has expressed a willingness in recent days for another coronavirus stimulus bill, but it is not yet clear how much money a new package would allocate for municipal transit. McConnell has previously suggested the Senate should not fund “blue state bailouts.”
“We have urgently requested $3.9 billion in emergency funding from Congress to get us through the remainder of 2020, and we need the Senate to return to Washington, do its job and provide this funding now,” said MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan. “The future of NYC and our nation’s economy depends on it.”
It is not clear if the MTA is considering cuts to staff or frontline workers in order to shore up its budget. A source within the MTA told Crain’s that all options are on the table.
The city’s Independent Budget Office offered its own dire fiscal projections for the MTA. A July 2020 report highlights how a collapse in transit ridership has led to a collapse in fare revenue, and a decline in tax revenue from various arms of the economy has augmented this fiscal death spiral.
Tax revenue that under normal circumstances reliably fills the MTA’s coffers has been decimated during the pandemic. There have been declines in real estate, sales and corporate taxes and overall economic activity.
Between 2020 and 2022, the IBO projects, there will be a drop of $2.7 billion in tax revenue from what the MTA projected before the pandemic.
Future financial commitments from the city and state also remain clouded in doubt. While the city is still required to pay $1.9 billion that remains from a $2.7 billion contribution to the 2015-19 capital program, the amount the city will be able to grant for the 2020-24 capital program remains in limbo.
Foran painted a bleak assessment.
“The MTA’s 2020 revenue losses are greater than that of more than 30 states, according to a recent survey, and greater than 35 states in 2021,” he wrote. “Without help from Congress, the MTA will be forced to take drastic measures unacceptable to riders—including service and personnel reductions and jettisoning huge portions of the historic 2020-2024 capital program.”