xi's moments
Home | Americas

NYC transit system seeks $12b federal bailout

By SCOTT REEVES in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-08-27 11:23

People walk by a Manhattan subway station on Aug 26, 2020 in New York. [Photo/Agencies]

The head of New York City's public transportation system warned on Wednesday that unless Congress approves a $12 billion bailout, the nation's largest public transit system would impose "draconian measures", including "massive" service and job cuts.

Meanwhile, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Wednesday the Trump administration is considering executive action to head off job cuts by US airlines if Congress fails to agree on the next round of legislation to ease the economic stress caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"We've got four executive actions that actually the president took, we're going to take a few others because if Congress is not going to work, this president is going to get to work and solve some problems," he told Politico.

"So hopefully we can help out the airlines and keep some of those employees from being furloughed."

American Airlines, the nation's largest, said Tuesday, it plans to lay off about 19,000 workers starting Oct 1 when federal aid runs out. Delta Air Lines, the No 2 carrier, said it plans to furlough about 2,000 pilots.

Pat Foye, chairman of New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), told an emergency meeting of the agency that subway and bus service could be cut by 40 percent and commuter rail service by 50 percent.

Capital spending could be delayed or reduced, including the purchases of a fleet of electric buses and new subway cars and an upgrade to the subway's antiquated signal systems, which have been the source of many delays.

The city's subways and buses have been disinfected daily for months, but ridership on subways is down 75 percent and on buses about 40 percent, causing combined weekly losses of $200 million.

Transit system officials are forecasting a $10 billion deficit next year.

"Expenses cannot be reduced quickly enough and significantly enough to offset the 40 percent reduction in revenue we have experienced," he said in a statement.

The possible service cuts could mean waits up to eight minutes longer for the next subway train and as much as an additional 15 minutes for the next city bus, the MTA said,

The MTA said it might have to eliminate as many as 7,200 jobs throughout the system and reduce overtime spending for transit workers.

Service on commuter rail lines on Long Island and in the suburbs north of Manhattan and in Connecticut could be cut by 50 percent. Waits between trains could be as much as an hour on heavily traveled lines and as much as two hours on lines with fewer passengers. Service on some Long Island branch lines could be discontinued.

The MTA said it is facing a $16.2 billion deficit through 2024 because the COVID-19 pandemic has wiped out its operating revenue, which comes from fares, tolls and subsidies.

The $2.2 trillion federal economic relief package signed by President Donald Trump in March earmarked about $4 billion for the MTA, but transit officials said it has already been exhausted, and Foye said "we can't wait any longer for additional help".

Eighteen House Republicans from New York, including Trump supporters, signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, seeking additional aid for the MTA.

Discussions on the next round of aid bills began last month, but Congress adjourned this week without reaching an agreement. Democrats and Republicans disagree about the scope and amount of the next aid package.

Democrats want to extend the extra $600 a week in jobless benefits, believing it's necessary to help workers pay their bills. Republicans say the extra benefit means some workers receive more by staying home and argue that could slow the recovery.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349