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MTA Gets $6.2 Billion Lump Sum From Feds, As Agency Tries to Recover From Plummeting Ridership

The MTA has been sent more than $6 billion in COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government. The N train pulling into Queensboro Plaza (Photo by Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

Jan. 12, 2022 By Michael Dorgan

The MTA has been sent more than $6 billion in COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer announced Wednesday.

The bailout, a near $6.2 billion lump sum, is the largest one-time payment ever awarded by the Federal Transit Administration, an agency within the U.S. Dept. of Transportation.

Schumer said the funds would save the cash-strapped agency from a “COVID-catalyzed brink of death.”

“The bottom line is that without the money that we were able to get, the subway system never would have bounced back,” Schumer said in a morning press briefing via Zoom.

The funds, Schumer said, will keep the agency’s mass transit network operating, support the economy and stave off potentially thousands of MTA workers being furloughed.

The MTA requested the COVID-19 relief funds since the pandemic has led to a substantial dip in ridership and revenue – spiraling the agency deep into the red.

For instance, 2.267 million riders took the subway Tuesday, which is about 42 percent of the ridership level pre-pandemic, according to MTA data.

Schumer said it was important that the money be released all at once.

“In the past, these subsidies have trickled down and the MTA was never sure they could plan ahead,” Schumer said. “But this $6 billion gives them deep, deep liquidity.”

Schumer said the money would also go towards funding the MTA’s capital program – a $54.8 billion investment project in the region’s subways, buses, commuter railroads, bridges and tunnels.

MTA Acting Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said the injection of funds will support the entire transit system and help rebuild New York’s economy.

“This funding helps the MTA continue to provide top-tier service and in the near term avoid fare increases,” Lieber said in a statement.

The rescue package brings the total amount of money received by the MTA from the federal government to more than $14 billion over the course of the pandemic – with more funds on the way.

The agency is expected to receive a $10 billion windfall from the infrastructure bill signed into law by President Biden in November.

MTA Subway Ridership levels

MTA Subway Ridership levels (MTA)

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Larry Pennerr

There is more to Senator Schumer’s announcement that the Federal Transit Administration released a $6 billion dollar grant to the MTA for CARE COVID-19 relief. These funds were made available in March, 2021. Why did it take ten months for the MTA to obtain the approved grant? This grant brings the total amount of CARE COVID-19 relief funding from Washington for the MTA to $14 billion. What Schumer neglected to mention was how much of these funds have been paid for rather than how much have been borrowed adding to our $29 trillion and growing national debt. He said “it is a public service and the higher percentage we get from city, state and federal help the better” Funding for the MTA has always been a four way partnership between what riders pay at the farebox along with city, state and federal funding. Commuters and Washington always ante up. Will Schumer hold one of his press conferences to ask Governor Kathy Hochul, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Steward Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to increase Albany’s contribution? Will he also ask NYC Mayor Eric Adams, Comptroller Brad Ladner, and NYC Council Speaker Adrienne Adams increase City Hall’s contribution? Schumer never explained why many other transit agencies around the nation already received their second and third rounds of funding ahead of the MTA.

Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions in capital projects and programs for the MTA, NJ Transit along with 30 other transit agencies in NY & NJ)

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Izzy

Oh and that’s federal funds, so that means people who live in say Wyoming or some other states and have never ridden a subway train in their lives are paying for this. The mta is no longer satisfied with ripping off New Yorkers, they’re now going for the whole country.

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Izzy

Top tier service? So people smoking crack on the j train is top tier? Running trains that never line up for transfers and leave riders waiting for twenty minutes at a time because of a five minute departure difference is top tier? Also they are not an agency they are a private company with City and state contracts. I guarantee that money will not go to improving the subway system. They never even cleaned during the pandemic. The stations are filthy, they have a mask mandate and most of their employees don’t wear masks. There are rats everywhere. They try to pass themselves off as a government agency but they don’t even have a government url ( .gov) for their website, a .info url is publicly available. They call themselves an authority, yeah so was The Sports Authority a government agency? No it wasn’t. What a load of crap. Real City workers get paid nothing compared to these assholes. Their ceo because he’s not an elected official, because they’re not a government agency will pocket that cash and cut in his corrupt cohorts. They spent how much on those video billboards? How about improving service? Oh wait, better service is not as profitable as advertising. Stop supporting corruption.

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Jan

“Plummeting Ridership ” is the cause of lost revenue?..Are they joking?..Could it possibly have something to do with the hundreds of millions lost annually because of fare beaters?..After all it’s not being enforced as it’s no longer viewed a crime.

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Srinivas

Wouldn’t it be fun if all the money went into transit union coffers for some backdated bs union dues?

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