Transportation chief says aid needed by November to avoid big NYC subway and bus cuts

Foye and John Samuelsen, international president of the Transport Workers Union of America, warned in an opinion article this week in the New York Times that the MTA faced a “five-alarm fire” and called on the U.S. Senate to approve an infusion of federal funds to save it. Even with congressional negotiations on further federal assistance at a standstill, Foye said…

Sept 3 (Reuters) – New York’s coronavirus-hit Metropolitan

Transportation Authority (MTA) will have to start implementing a

dramatic job and service reduction plan in November if it does

not receive billions of dollars in federal aid, the agency’s

chairman said on Thursday.

Speaking in a virtual Reuters Newsmaker event, Patrick Foyesaid the MTA’s upcoming board meeting in November was the cutoffdate for pulling the trigger on a plan to lay off 8,400 workersand cut city subway and bus service by up to 40 percent.

“That is the point at which we would have to beginimplementing the service reductions and layoffs,” Foye said.

Foye and John Samuelsen, international president of theTransport Workers Union of America, warned in an opinion articlethis week in the New York Times that the MTA faced a “five-alarmfire” and called on the U.S. Senate to approve an infusion offederal funds to save it.

In July, the MTA unveiled a four-year financial plan thatestimated a $16.2 billion deficit by 2024, with more than athird of those losses coming next year, a signal that it doesnot see ridership, hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic,rebounding significantly anytime soon.

The agency, which runs New York City buses and subways andtwo commuter railroads that connect the city with suburbs, islosing $200 million in revenue a week and estimates it needsanother $3.9 billion in federal aid to get through the end ofthis year and a total of $10.3 billion through 2021.

In addition to the plunge in revenue, the MTA has had tospend more to clean subway cars, stations and buses to curb thespread of the coronavirus. Subway service, which formerly ranfor 24 hours, was closed down from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. to make thatcleaning possible, another hit to ridership.

Even with congressional negotiations on further federalassistance at a standstill, Foye said he still held out hopethat the Republican-controlled Senate would approve additionalfunding for the MTA before the Nov. 3 national election.

“If reason prevails and the national interest is pursued bythe Senate, the Republican leadership in the Senate andWashington, the MTA will be financed,” Foye said.(Reporting by Axel Threlfall, Nathan Layne, and Tina Bellon;editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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