New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), which runs the city's bus, subway and commuter rail system, is requesting $4 billion in aid from the state's congressional delegation as the coronavirus pandemic has drastically slashed ridership.
In a letter on Tuesday, Chairman Patrick Foye said that the transit system is faced with "financial calamity," according to The New York Times, which added that the MTA has projected revenue losses of approximately $3.7 billion if ridership continues to decline in the coming months.
“The M.T.A. has already committed to finding $2.8 billion in savings over the next several years,” Foye wrote. “No agency of our size can find additional billions in savings equivalent to the damages we have and will sustain as a result of this pandemic.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerManchin meeting with Biden, Schumer in Delaware Progressives' optimism for large reforms dwindles Democratic frustration with Sinema rises MORE (D-N.Y.) responded to the letter Tuesday night, saying that MTA services are the "lifeblood" of the city.
“Senate Democrats are leading the charge to include substantial support for the whole system in any package Congress will next consider to keep our vital public institutions stable and operating," he added.
Compared to the same time last year, ridership on the system's buses is down nearly 50 percent and 60 percent on the subway, the Times noted. Additionally, rush hour ridership on commuter rail lines — the Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road — is down 90 percent and 67 percent, respectively, from this time in 2019.
The MTA's sharp drop in ridership can be attributed to New York City's attempt to stem the spread of COVID-19. Bars, restaurants and marquee city staples such as museums and Broadway theaters have all been shut down.
In the city alone, there have been over 1,000 confirmed cases of the virus. On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden makes his pitch as tax questions mount Hochul gets early boost as NY gubernatorial race takes shape Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Boosters take a big step forward MORE (D) said that he would make the decision to issue a "shelter in place" order within 48 hours.
A shelter in place order would mandate that all city residents stay in their homes but would fall short of the complete lockdown that is in place in Italy, where people need permission to leave their homes.