New Yorkers to Congress: Save Our Subways, Rail, Buses, and Paratransit With $3.9 Billion More in Federal COVID-19 Emergency Aid
Powerful Collection of 55 Advocacy, Business and Labor Groups Back MTA’s Call for Federal Rescue Funds to Prevent Collapse of Nation’s Largest Transit System
New York, NY (4/23/2020) –Leaders of 55 organizations representing a broad spectrum of
New York’s economy and civic life today strongly backed the MTA’s call for an additional
$3.9 billion to rescue public transit service and maintain operations for the remainder of
- Signers called on New York’s Congressional delegation, which includes many
members of senior leadership in both legislative chambers, to make sure the MTA gets the
federal funding it needs to survive the COVID-19 emergency.
Since early March, the MTA has lost more than 90% of its subway and commuter rail riders.
Overall, between huge declines in farebox, toll, and dedicated tax revenue and expensive
measures to fight COVID-19, the MTA is losing over $1 billion per month. The MTA’s $3.9
billion request for federal rescue funds assumes ridership will bounce back to 50% of pre-
pandemic levels by year’s end.
The letter from the 55 New York organizations comes a week after the MTA completed its
pandemic damage estimate and transmitted its own request for aid to Congress. In their
letter, the leaders of the groups emphasize the central importance of the transit system to
the life and of the nation’s financial and cultural capital. They argue that the New York City
region, which provides 11% of the U.S. GDP, cannot recover from the COVID-19 emergency
without a working MTA.
“New York relies on transit to a unique degree among American cities,” the letter reads.
“New York will not return to work and other aspects of our lives primarily in automobiles.
We not only need the MTA to continue to function through the worst of the crisis, but also
to be poised to rebound and again accommodate a large share of travel in the city and
“Helping New York get back to work will be an important component of getting America
back to work. In better times, the MTA moves 9 million people per day, and is critical to the
daily function of a region that accounts for 11 percent of America’s gross domestic product.”
The signatories include New York’s leading advocates for transit riders, immigrants, union
workers, and many more. The breadth of the coalition here signals the unique importance of
transit to the entire city as well as the special role New York’s influential delegation will have
to play in addressing the MTA’s funding needs among the myriad competing priorities
Re: Support for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority in CARES-2 Dear Members of the downstate New York Congressional Delegation:
We write to urge you to ensure that federal emergency funding for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is proportionate to its immense scale within the American public transit sector and fundamental importance to the economy of the New York City region. The COVID-19 emergency has destroyed the MTA’s ridership and revenue, while inflicting terrible human suffering — at least 83 MTA employees have
died — and staggering financial losses.
The MTA said on April 16 that it needed $3.9 billion in additional federal aid to keep afloat during 2020. Credible estimates indicate that the need may be even greater. An analysis released by some of our organizations on April 15 found the MTA’s shortfall may run from $4.4 to $8 billion. This problem deserves your utmost attention.
As you know, New York relies on transit to a unique degree among American cities. Even with ridership down dramatically, we need to keep the system in good running order. New Yorkers riding buses, subways and commuter trains today work in hospitals. They are receiving and sorting critical goods, and keeping grocery stores stocked. Transit workers and presumably, regular riders have been hard hit by COVID-19. We need the MTA to run enough transit service so that essential personnel and transit workers all have more space on buses and trains. We also need to make sure that the MTA’s vital Access-A-Ride paratransit service, which takes riders to jobs and health care, is operating fully throughout this crisis and beyond.
The MTA accounted for nearly 40 percent of transit trips nationwide in 2018, according to federal data (see attached sheet on metro shares of the U.S. transit market). Yet the agency received less than 15 percent of the transit funding made available in the March CARES Act.
As the crisis eases, New York will not return to work and other aspects of our lives primarily in automobiles. We not only need the MTA to continue to function through the worst of the crisis, but also to be poised to rebound and again accommodate a large share of travel, including more transit accessibility, in the city and metropolitan region.
Helping New York get back to work will be an important component of getting America back to work. In better times, the MTA moves 9 million people per day, and is critical to the daily function of a region that accounts for 11 percent of America’s gross domestic product.
We look forward to working with you as you shape relief legislation.
Executive Director, Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA