MTA chairman: Pandemic fare hike is a 'nonstarter'

In an interview with Good Day New York, Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO and Chairman Patrick Foye detailed some of the unique ways the agency is hoping to cope with huge financial and logistical challenges as gets closer to resuming full service once coronavirus pandemic restrictions are lifted. The most unusual of which is the possibility of a reservation system for bus and subway riders. 

"Reservations would be a difficult thing to achieve but we think we've got an obligation to look at it," he told FOX 5 NY. "And we're going to look at everything that we think makes sense, including everything that is being considered or implemented at transit agencies in Asia, Europe and North America."

The forced shutdown of trains overnight has never been done before. Some stations have already installed markers for safe social distancing. Workers are cleaning the trains and stations each night.

"We're looking at some innovative disinfecting technologies including ultraviolet, which is a proven technology and used in hospital and emergency room settings," Foye said. "We're also very encouraged by the pilots that we have been conducting, frankly, since mid-March at the [Corona, Queens] yard and every subway car and bus has been treated with anti-microbial solutions over the last month."

Of course, none of this is possible without cash on hand. The U.S. Congress has already allocated almost $3.9 billion for the MTA. Another $3.9 billion may be coming down the pike. Will that be enough to avert layoffs? The short answer is he hopes so.

"We need those funds to keep the lights on and to pay the payroll," Foye said. "If we get that, we will not be in a position where we have to lay operating people off. We're going to need their services."

Any New Yorker knows that a massive budget deficit, looming capital projects, and a significant loss in revenue, raising the possibility of a fare hike. But Foye called that a "nonstarter, period."

"We are acutely aware of the fact that all New Yorkers are under financial press as a result of the pandemic," Foye said. "I do not see and do not support any pandemic-related fare increase."


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