MTA Faces Dire Need for Federal Help, NY Officials Say

Nick Reisman

New York State of Politics

Aug 27, 2020

New York City's mass transit system is in dire need of a federal aid package or risk a potentially costly borrowing plan and fare hikes, state officials on Thursday warned.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's finances were devastated by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shutdown. Commuters stayed home or largely avoided trains, buses and subways and fares plummeted to levels never seen before, starving the MTA of revenue.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a conference call told reporters a tax hike even, including a sharp increase for New York's wealthiest, would help cover the shortfall.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli in a statement called on Congress to act on the issue or an austerity plan would have to take effect.

“Washington must act. The MTA needs federal support to manage this crisis," DiNapoli said. "The alternative is unthinkable. Without additional federal aid, the MTA is considering drastic cuts and fare hikes that won’t come near what it needs, and in fact will extend the problems we face, not solve them."

A healthy MTA is a statewide issue. The authority is by far the largest mass transit system in the state and the most complex in the United States.

It ferries commuters into and around New York City, the economic engine of the sate and country.

Congress previously approved an aid package for the MTA, but the need continues, DiNapoli said.

“The MTA is facing an unprecedented challenge – a completely unforeseen revenue crisis that is no fault of its workers or commuters," he said. "The extreme measures outlined by the MTA this week underline the choices we face if funding is not forthcoming. Our essential workers and those least prepared to shoulder the burden will be asked to do the most."