The MTA has asked for an additional $3.9 billion in federal coronavirus relief, and last week a group of transit advocates, trade union officials and construction leaders came together to back the agency’s request.
In a letter to the downstate Congressional Delegation, the coalition of 55 economic and advocacy organizations, including Riders Alliance, Straphangers Campaign and Make the Road NY, urged lawmakers to ensure funding for the MTA that is proportionate to the transit giant’s regional and national influence.
“As the crisis eases, New York will not return to work and other aspects of our lives primarily in automobiles,” the letter reads. “We not only need the MTA to continue to function through the worst of the crisis, but also to be poised to rebound and again accommodate a large share of travel, including more transit accessibility, in the city and metropolitan region.”
Ridership on the subways, LIRR and MetroNorth has taken a massive hit in the last two months, plunging by more than 90 percent due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down most aspects of city and state life.
Before the outbreak, the network was moving nearly 9 billion people per weekday.
This, combined with significant drains on its dedicated tax revenue and additional costs for cleaning and overtime pay, the MTA continues to lose hundreds of billions of dollars each week - a deficit that, according to an analysis by Transit Center, could add up to more than $8 billion.
Despite accounting for nearly 40 percent of mass transit trips nationwide, the MTA received less than 15 percent of transportation funding in the March CARES Act. Advocates say the relief, which accrued to a sum of $3.8 billion, is not enough.
“We need this federal investment to keep transit running for the essential workers who are carrying us and our city right now,” said Riders Alliance executive director Betsy Plum, “but it will be fundamental to New York’s overall ability to reopen, reemerge from this crisis and recover.
“And if we get this right, and if we build bold new transit champions at the federal level,” she continued, “we are that much closer to not only rescuing our subways and buses from collapse, but to delivering key gains toward the modern, world-class system we all deserve.”