State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said the future of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is bleak without federal aid, echoing the need to close a $12 billion budget deficit the organization suffered due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Without the $12 billion in federal aid, officials said, the initial budget cuts will total $2.4 billion over the next two years. Officials said expenses cannot be reduced quickly and significantly enough to offset a 40 percent revenue reduction the organization has experienced and will continue to expect.
“The MTA needs federal support to manage this crisis,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “The alternative is unthinkable. Without additional federal aid, the MTA is considering drastic cuts and fare hikes that won’t come near what it needs, and in fact will extend the problems we face, not solve them.”
Transit authority officials discussed potential measures that they would take if no federal aid was provided such as eliminating more than 800 Long Island Rail Road jobs, raising fares by 10 percent in three years, and delaying the East Side Access Project, which allows for a second railroad terminal in Manhattan.
Reducing the service of the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Rail Road by up to 50 percent will save the organization almost $160 million per year, officials said.
Other cuts that the organization designated as less severe include a $115 million reduction in consultant costs by 2021 and cutting overtime by $215 million by next year as well.
“The extreme measures outlined by the MTA this week underline the choices we face if funding is not forthcoming,” DiNapoli said. “Our essential workers and those least prepared to shoulder the burden will be asked to do the most.”
“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 hardworking New Yorkers,” MTA Chairman Patrick Foye said. “We are acutely aware of the human toll that the mere discussion of these horrific actions will cause … but if the Senate doesn’t act, and we don’t receive $12 billion in additional federal funding, we will have no choice.”
The organization received $3.9 billion in federal aid in the previously passed CARES Act, but ran through the funding by July, officials said.
“We’re about to see the worst train wreck in the system’s history,” Transportation Authority board member Kevin Law said. “The potential cuts to the Long Island Rail Road are terrifying.”
“The MTA is the economic lifeblood of the NYC region,” DiNapoli said. “I am calling on our civic and business leaders to support our public officials and the New York State Congressional Delegation in order to pass legislation to provide the MTA with additional funding.”
On Thursday, the Transportation Authority launched new digital advertisements as part of a #SaveTransit virtual campaign. Officials said the transit authority is in the midst of its worst financial crisis, experiencing greater declines in ridership than in the aftermath of the Great Depression.
“New York’s economic future, and the country’s, relies on a strong MTA powering progress,” Foye said. “If the Senate fails to step up and deliver $12 billion, it would be a devastating blow to mass transit as we know it. We need action now, and the more we can amplify this message, the better.”