Additional federal aid is needed to fix the "greatest crisis" facing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority since its inception more than half a century ago, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Tuesday warned in a report.
The report details the MTA's troubled finances pushed to the brink by a sharp drop off in ridership due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The authority was previously facing financial challenges with budget gaps projected at the start og the year. But the pandemic has made the MTA's woes virtually unsolvable without federal intervention.
The 2021 budget gap for the authority is more than half of its annual projected revenue. It faces a $3.4 billion gap in 20202 and a $6.3 billion gap in 2021.
DiNapoli's report called the financial crunch facing the MTA "dire" even as more commuters return as businesses re-opened in the spring and summer.
“With ridership down, debt burden rising and no additional help likely from New York state or New York City, the MTA desperately needs an influx of federal funds or unheard of service cuts and workforce reductions will happen," DiNapoli said. "Failure to fund the MTA now could disrupt maintenance and repairs and increase the MTA’s debt to suffocating levels that could take multiple generations to recover from. More than a reliable subway or commuter train ride is at stake. Washington needs to step up to help the MTA if our regional economy is going to fully recover.”
The MTA did receive $4 billion in federal assistance earlier this year, but has requested an additional $12 billion from Congress to balance its budget through next year. For now, another COVID relief measure remains stalled in Washington.
MTA officials said the report shows the need for more aid from Congress.
“The Comptroller's report is further independent validation that the MTA faces fiscal calamity for years to come if the federal government does not step up to provide the necessary $12 billion in COVID-19 relief funding we've been aggressively seeking," said MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye.
"Massive service and employee cuts, fare hikes, a gutting of our historic capital plan, and more unsustainable debt, which will only put future pressure on the fare box, are all on the table without help from Washington. Continued inaction by Congress will not only hurt our customers and employees, but also the economic rebound of New York and the nation."