MTA unveils 'doomsday' budget with massive cuts, citing lack of federal funding

MTA Budget News

Wednesday, November 18, 2020
MTA unveils 'doomsday' budget with massive cuts, citing lack of federal funding
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Lauren Glassberg reports on the MTA budget announcement that includes massive service cuts and layoffs if no federal aid is provided.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The MTA announced its budget for the upcoming year on Wednesday, and it includes massive service cuts and layoffs if no federal aid is provided.

The so-called doomsday scenario is playing out because the MTA says it has so far been denied $12 billion in federal funds for which the agency has been begging for months.

The draconian measures include cutting as much as 40% of service on subways and buses, as well as 50% on commuter rail lines like the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North, along with over 9,000 layoffs.

The agency is required to pass a balanced budget by the end of the year, and the new budget includes the combination of layoffs and service changes designed to close a pandemic-induced $12.2 billion deficit through 2024. The cuts would save $1.2 billion but would devastate the city's public transportation system.

Related: MTA outlines 'draconian' cuts without $12 billion in federal aid

That is where the senate runoffs in Georgia could have a massive impact on jobs in our area, as many believe the bailout is tied to which political party controls the Senate.

"With respect to the finances, the election of the president-elect is a very positive step," MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye said. "Every school child knows he is called 'Amtrak Joe,' he rode it regularly between Wilmington and Washington, DC, and throughout his entire career has been an ardent supporter of mass transit and public transit. That's a positive."

Ridership is down dramatically since the pandemic began, and at one point, it was down 90%.

Related: MTA in worse shape than during the Great Depression, officials say

The MTA received $4 billion in stimulus funds but still need $12 billion more in federal aid, and the agency has continually asked for a bailout from the federal government.

Related: MTA warns nationwide impact without $12 billion in federal funding

"We've said all along that unless we received $12 billion in federal emergency assistance, we would be forced to enact draconian cuts and layoffs," Senior Advisor Ken Lovett said. "As we are required to enact a balanced budget and the feds have yet to act on another COVID-19 relief package that would help mass transit, we are moving ahead hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. If the federal aid comes through in that amount, we will adjust our spending plan accordingly."

The new budget will be discussed Wednesday and voted on next month, but the bailout -- if it comes -- likely wouldn't happen until President-Elect Joe Biden takes office. And many employees could start receiving layoff notices before then.

The Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum released a statement saying, "Firing 9,000 workers and slashing 40% of subway and bus service would cost millions of New Yorkers several hours of commuting time each week and devastate the city for decades to come. Like never before, New Yorkers are counting on our Congressional champions like Senator Schumer and Representative Jeffries to save public transit. Failing to save transit at this pivotal moment is not an option. Should Congress fail to act, the MTA's doomsday budget must be the absolute last resort. As Chairman Foye said, literally everything must be on the table. At the end of the day, Governor Cuomo must do all he possibly can to safeguard our transit system and New York's future."

Related: Transit agencies join together for 'mask force'


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