By Justin Franz
Transit agencies are asking Congress for $33 billion to survive plummeting ridership and revenues during the coronavirus pandemic. On May 12, officials from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Georgia and California held a virtual press conference to discuss how the pandemic has impacted operations.
While the first pandemic relief act passed in April included $25 billion in emergency funding for public transit, officials said they will need even more to make it through the year. Patrick J. Foye, chairman and CEO of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said his agency alone needs another $3.9 billion. Foye said ridership on the New York City subway was down 92 percent in recent weeks and down 97 percent on the Long Island Rail Road.
“If our agencies are not fully funded there will be both short term and long term impacts,” he said. “In the short term, we won’t be able to carry the first responders and essential workers needed to respond to the pandemic. In the long term, we wouldn’t be able to help with the country’s economic recovery.”
Last week, the American Public Transportation Association announced it was urging Congress to include at least $23.8 billion in the next pandemic response bill. Foye said Tuesday that just wasn’t enough.
Democrats in the House of Representatives have said that they want to work on a second relief act immediately. But Republicans have said they would like to wait a few weeks to see how the already-passed $2.2 trillion CARES Act impacts the economy.