March 18, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
The MTA has requested a $4 billion federal bailout to offset the impact coronavirus is having on the agency as ridership levels plummet and costs to combat the virus increase.
In an urgent letter to New York’s congressional delegation, MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye said the transportation authority is facing “financial calamity” as more people stay at home following the advice of medical experts.
The agency, which runs the city’s bus, subway and commuter rail system, is forecasting operating losses of $3.7 billion over the next six months based on recent ridership trends with enhanced cleaning protocols set to cost a further $300 million.
“Ridership has fallen approximately 60 percent on the subways, 49 percent on buses, 90 percent on Metro-North and 67 percent on Long Island Rail Road,” Foye wrote.
“We project the full impact will be over $4 billion by the end of 2020 – even without accounting for the expected collapse of the more than $6 billion in state and local taxes dedicated to the MTA,” he added.
The MTA continues to operate all of its services and has substantially increased the intensity and frequency of cleaning protocols across the system, disinfecting all stations and touchpoints twice a day, according to Foye.
“Our entire fleet of subways, buses and rail cars is disinfected on a 72-hour cycle – except for Access-A-Ride vehicles serving the disabled, which are sanitized daily,” he wrote.
Foye said the MTA has already committed to $2.8 billion in savings over the next few years but will not be able to find extra savings to cover the costs coronavirus will have on the agency.
One hundred new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the city Tuesday as the total number of cases approaches 1,000, Mayor de Blasio said this morning. Ten New York City residents have died as a result of the virus and he expects a sharp rise in cases over the coming days.
On Tuesday De Blasio suggest implementing a “shelter-in-place” policy that would order New Yorkers to stay in their homes but Governor Cuomo is opposed to the plan.
“Any blanket quarantine or shelter in place policy would require state action and as the governor has said, there is no consideration of that for any locality at this time,” Melissa de Rosa, secretary to the governor said in a statement.
It comes after de Blasio signed an executive order than bans shared rides in an effort to promote social distancing.