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.