Mass transit could suffer 'horrendous' cuts without federal bailout, MTA says

New York's transit authority says it is facing the possibility of cutting bus and subway service by 40% and laying off more than 10% of the agency's workforce, if Congress does not provide additional funding. 

"Horrendous choices lie ahead," said Metropolitan Transit Authority Chairman Pat Foye in an emergency MTA board meeting Wednesday, the New York Daily News reported.

The agency needs $12 billion in funding before the end of 2021 to avoid drastic measures, like raising subway and bus fares to $3.75 and reducing service on the LIRR and Metro-North commuter rail lines. Fewer trains on the rails or subway means longer waits and more crowded cars while the pandemic continues.

None of these possible cuts are final, Foye said, but due to deeply reduced ridership, the agency projects a deficit of $3.2 billion in 2020. It will need more than $8 billion in federal aid in 2021 to maintain service, the newspaper reported. 

Cutting 7,200 jobs would spark a confrontation with the union that represents the city's transit workers. 

"The only chance of New York City's economy coming back is a vibrant subway, and people aren't going to get on the subway if the commutes are that bad," said John Samuelsen, president of the Transport Workers Union International.

Last month, MTA board members suggested raising a gas tax on car commuters to help fund transportation projects and to reduce the reliance of the MTA, and the millions of daily commuters it serves, on federal funding.

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R179 subway cars operating on the J line.

A subway operating on the J line. (Courtesy of MTA New York City Transit)