NEW YORK – New York City’s subways and commuter railroads will receive a $6 billion lump sum payment in federal COVID-19 relief funds, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer announced. New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has received the money as part of more than $14.5 billion in overall federal relief aid.
It is the largest one-time grant the Federal Transit Administration has ever awarded, federal officials say, and will help restore the budgets of the rail lines, which were ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic as ridership plummeted during the 2020 national shutdown, Newsday reported.
The aid, contained in COVID-19 relief bills during both the Trump and Biden administrations, has helped the MTA prevent service cutbacks, layoffs, and fare hikes. The agency still has projected it will have a $1.4 billion operating deficit by 2025, the effect of losing more than 90% of ridership on subways, trains, and buses at the pandemic’s height. Subway ridership lags pre-pandemic levels by about 40%.
Schumer says it was important the money be released in a lump sum, rather than in piecemeal fashion. “In the past, these grants were dribbled out, and the MTA was never sure that they could plan ahead. But this $6 billion gives them deep, deep liquidity,” he says, allowing the agency to potentially forgo fare increases and layoffs, while continuing with their capital budget plans.