Will Cuomo Save Transit in New York?

Assuming that Congress isn't going to act, does New York Gov Cuomo have the political will to save the New York MTA from sweeping layoffs and service cuts?

November 23, 2020, 6:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Coronavirus and Transportation

Ron Adar / Shutterstock

Last week, officials with the New York MTA announced a grim projected budget that would cut transit service by 40 percent and layoff more than 9,000 employees.

The announcement of those planned cuts was clearly designed to pressure Congress into approving a new round of stimulus spending to bail transit systems, including the New York MTA, out of a fiscal crisis caused by a sudden and steep drop in ridership during the pandemic.

The threat of long-term damage to the nation's public transit systems is real, even if Congress seems unwilling to act, and transit systems like the MTA might need a backup plan. In the case of the New York MTA, the Democratic governor of the state, with authority over the city's transit system, also seems so far uninspired to deploy the political will at his disposal.

State Senator Jessica Ramos is among the state's elected officials pushing for a state-level solution to the MTA's fiscal crisis, and waiting for Cuomo to get on board, according to an article by Dave Colon.

"Ramos and her Albany colleagues have spent the pandemic proposing multiple new taxes to help deal with New York State’s yawning four-year deficit, which has hit $63 billion by now," writes Colon. "In addition to Ramos’s proposed mark-to-market tax, which would tax an increase in stocks and bonds held by billionaires in New York, Democrats have proposed a pied-a-terre tax, a stock transfer tax, a sales tax on luxury items like private jets or yachts or a surcharge on non-essential online deliveries."

As of the most recent MTA Board meeting, the transit agency is still without a backup plan for a potential future that does not include Congressional support for the agency's sagging finances.

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