MTA leaders are calling for another huge government bailout — and a group of Albany Democrats are urging Gov. Kathy Hochul to give them one.
The 30 assembly members — led by Amy Paulin (D-Westchester) and Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas (D-Queens) — in a letter to Hochul on Monday called for additional fun to avoid service cuts, and the instead increase the frequency of trains and buses every six minutes.
“Without saving and stabilizing public transit, New York’s economy will collapse, our communities will become isolated, and our existential climate goals will be utterly out of reach,” reads the letter obtained by The Post.
“To meet the moment, we must not only save the public transit on which New York depends, but also invest in its growth and take advantage of existing infrastructure to run buses and trains more frequently and more reliably, reduce long waits, shorten travel times and attract more riders. »
The letter comes after State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli warned last week that the MTA may have to enact severe service cuts and fare hikes to recover to pre-pandemic revenue levels.
The transit authority has long relied on fares to keep trains and buses running, but that funding model has become obsolete as fewer New Yorkers choose to ride the subway.
Ridership levels fell more than 90% in the first weeks of the pandemic and are expected to remain as low as just 73% of pre-pandemic levels by mid-2026, according to projections from consultants McKinsey & Company.
A cumulative injection of $15 billion in federal cash over 2020 and 2021 has temporarily secured the MTA’s budget. The agency needs $600 million for 2023, plus more than $1 billion for each of the next three years, according to its latest budget forecast.
As it stands, the MTA is expected to raise fares another 11% by 2026 — to more than $3 per ride — if Hochul only closes those gaps but doesn’t provide the funds to head off a hike. prices.
Although the letter does not directly address the fare increases, Gonzales-Rojas told the Post that failure to avoid the increase or fund the MTA would be detrimental to the system and its passengers.
“We really don’t want to see the rate increases that are being offered, and we don’t want to see service reductions,” she said.
“People won’t return to offices if they have to pay more or get less service.”
Frequent service is also important to improve safety, the MP said.
“We really need to make sure the service continues to run reliably,” she said. “When you stand in a dark corner waiting for the bus for 20 minutes, you don’t feel safe.”
The pols — which represent all counties served by the MTA — have also called for more frequent commuter rail service.
Speaking on WABC-TV on Sunday, MTA CEO Janno Lieber agreed that a “massive” fare hike would devastate passengers.
“We don’t want a massive price increase. It wouldn’t be fair to people, mostly working people and middle-class New Yorkers who have been through COVID,” he said. “I called Washington, Albany and City Hall who all have a role to play in coming together and finding a solution to this…budget deficit.”
Officials had planned to raise fares earlier this year, but Hochul provided state funding that allowed its management named MTA to delay those hikes “indefinitely.”
A 4% rate hike is currently expected for next year and again in 2025, according to the MTA’s latest financial filings. Officials would need to raise fares an additional 19% to match pre-COVID revenues, according to the comptroller’s office. The current subway and bus fare is $2.75; according to the comptroller’s calculations, this price would rise to $3.54 by 2026.
Hochul on Nov. 22 said there are “multiple” possible sources of funding for the MTA bailout and claimed she “has a lot of ideas” to solve the problem.
“Governor Hochul took action last year to avoid fare increases or service reductions, and she is committed to providing safe, quality and reliable public transit service to riders,” said spokesman John Lindsay in a statement. “We will continue to work with our federal partners and state legislators on how best to support public transit.”
New York Post