NEW YORK - The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is suffering from the coronavirus pandemic with no light at the end of the tunnel.
“We need $4 billion, but we’re only at the starting point of this crisis," said MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye. "We will need substantially more than that to survive.”
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The transit agency, at its first virtual board meeting, estimated it is losing a $125 million a week.
If ridership remains as low as it does now that amounts to $6.5 billion over a year, on top of lost tax revenue the MTA relies on.
But, help may be on the way.
The U.S. Senate’s $2 trillion federal stimulus plan includes $25 billion for transit agencies across the nation. The MTA would get $4 billion.
But that won’t make the MTA completely whole.
“That is part of the solution but we’ve got a lot more actions to take," said Foye. "For one thing, we don’t know how long the pandemic is going to continue and how extensive the financial damage is going to be.”
The MTA is taking some matters into its own hands. It is halting its construction program.
The agency is also putting on hold its reorganization plan, which calls for 2,700 job cuts.
So far, 52 MTA employees have tested positive for coronavirus and more workers are calling out sick or being ordered to stay home to self-quarantine, meaning the MTA simply does not have the crews to run subways and buses.
One reason why subway and bus service has been slashed by 25 percent.
Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North service also has been cut.
“We will continue to right size service. Our efforts here are not to continue to decrease service to save funds or to maximize efficiency," said Interim NYC Transit President Sarah Feinberg. "It is to make sure that we are able to move the essential workers that need ot be moved in a safe and efficient way while also making sure that we are doing the right thing by our own workforce and sending as many people home as possible.”
Transit officials say they will monitor service to make sure that with reduced operations, the existing trains and buses that are running are not overcrowded.