A vague threat, present since the beginning of the pandemic, is now much more defined in New York City, as transit riders get an idea of what pandemic austerity looks like for the city's mobility. Congress can still save transit agencies.
"A 40% cut in weekday subway service and layoffs of more than 9,000 transit workers are on the table as MTA honchos battle a COVID-19 financial catastrophe," reports Clayton Guse.
Andrew Albert, a non-voting rider advocate on the MTA board, is quoted in the article saying that the cuts "would absolutely be an end to the New York way of life."
The New York Daily News obtained the transit austerity plan before other news outlets in the city, getting the scoop on one of the most significant transit stories since the pandemic began to take massive chunks out of the ridership in the city with the nation's most robust and popular transit system.
The fact that the news of the MTA's austerity plan has found its way to the media probably indicates political pressure on Congress and the incoming Biden administration to provide funding to transit agencies around the country, including the MTA.
"But without Congressional support — which might hinge on whether Democrats can win control of the Senate in a pair of runoff elections in Georgia in January — MTA managers expect to cut deep, their plan shows," according to Guse.
The responses of transit agencies to the financial realities of the pandemic have varied by location. In Boston and San Francisco, austerity has focused service toward buses and away from rail. Denver has focused on popular bus service closer to the urban core while also considering large numbers of layoffs. New York City has proposed a collection of bus priority improvement projects that have since encountered stiff opposition from local politicians and neighborhood organizations.
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