New York City’s MTA Warns of Service Cuts for Subways, Buses
Commuters could have to wait much longer for subways, buses and trains in 2021 as New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Wednesday outlined potential service cuts to plug a multibillion-dollar deficit caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
2021年，通勤者可能不得不等待更长时间的地铁、公交车和火车，因为纽约大都会运输局(Metropolitan Transportation Authority)周三概述了可能的服务削减计划，以填补冠状病毒疫情造成的数十亿美元赤字。
The MTA’s chief financial officer, Robert Foran, speaking at an authority board meeting, said officials drawing up the 2021 budget are considering reducing or suspending some weekday subway services and limiting weekend train frequency to every 15 minutes.
Mr. Foran said some bus routes could also reduce in frequency or be eliminated while peak-hour service on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad could be scaled back to every 20 or 30 minutes.
福兰说，一些公交线路也可能减少班次或取消，而长岛铁路(Long Island Rail Road)和地铁北线(Metro-North Railway)的高峰时段服务可能会缩减至每20或30分钟一次。
Such reductions could result in job losses for more than 9,000 of the authority’s roughly 68,000 workforce.
MTA officials say many of the cuts could be avoided if the authority secures a federal bailout in the coming months.
The MTA received $4 billion as part of a federal coronavirus bailout in May. MTA Chairman Patrick Foye told board members he is cautiously hopeful that the recent election of Democrat Joe Biden as president-elect increases the authority’s chances of receiving more federal aid next year.
MTA在5月份收到了40亿美元，作为联邦冠状病毒救助计划的一部分。MTA主席帕特里克·福耶(Patrick Foye)告诉董事会成员，他谨慎地希望，最近民主党人乔·拜登(Joe Biden)当选总统会增加MTA明年获得更多联邦援助的机会。
But Mr. Foye added that because the MTA cannot bank on such funds coming through, especially if Republicans maintain control of the Senate, the authority must start planning for cuts.
Mr. Foran said the cuts, which would be subject to public hearings and a board vote, could be put into place as early as May.
MTA board members also debated the merits of implementing planned biennial fare and toll increases in 2021 at a time when ridership is at record lows.
Even with the proposed service cuts, the MTA faces projected deficits in each of the next four years averaging about $2.9 billion. The shortfalls are driven by low ridership across subways, buses and commuter rails as well as anticipated drops in revenues from dedicated taxes.
The deficits are forecast even after the authority has taken a series of cost-cutting measures, such as reducing overtime and contracts with consultants. The MTA’s proposed operating budget for 2021 of $16 billion is $1 billion lower than 2020.
The authority has also paused billions of dollars of capital spending. It also expects to borrow $2.9 billion from the Federal Reserve by the end of the year to help cover operating costs.
Ridership on subways, buses and commuter rail plummeted when the pandemic hit New York in March. Currently, weekday ridership on the subway is down about 70%, while ridership on commuter rail is down between 75% and 80%.
Earlier this year, transit officials were thinking ridership would return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023. But Mr. Foran said Wednesday that the authority now expects that even after a Covid-19 vaccine has been widely distributed many people will continue to work from home and shop online more frequently. The MTA, he said, expects ridership to remain between 8% and 20% below pre-pandemic levels through the mid-2020s.
Mr. Foran said that because of such projections the authority needs to consider reducing some services. “We have to figure out what is the right level of service to meet the customer’s needs,” he said.
Authority officials also presented board members with options for the biennial fare and toll increases, which have been budgeted for spring of 2021.
The MTA runs nine toll bridges and tunnels. Officials proposed several toll options, including raising E-ZPass tolls at major crossings by up to $6.70 or varying pricing based on time of day.
On the subways and buses, their proposals included raising all tickets by 2% or 4%, or targeting certain discount programs, such as eliminating seven-day and 30-day passes while freezing base fares. Proposals on commuter rails included increasing one-way and 10-trip passes while freezing weekly and monthly tickets.
Some board members suggested that because of the drop in ridership caused by the pandemic, the MTA ought to consider freezing fares low for regular riders or even reducing some fares to lure back commuters.
The authority will hold virtual public hearings on the fare and toll proposals in December with a view to voting on them in early 2021.