NEW YORK — Without additional federal funding, transit agency officials said operations will be a challenge as states reopen.
A major part of the $3 trillion stimulus package working its way through the House on it's way to the Senate is earmarked for transportation agencies in the United States
MTA Chairperson and CEO Pat Foye held a video conference Tuesday with leaders from transit agencies in New Jersey, Atlanta, Philadelphia and San Francisco. The MTA asked elected officials to imagine a comeback without a transit system that people feel safe to ride.
The general manager to BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) said they are modeling more service and spreading out peak hours, but that will take additional federal funding. Transit agencies, including NJ Transit, have made a second request totaling $33 billion for transit nationwide.
The MTA has requested another $3.9 billion after getting a first installment of $3.9 billion in the first stimulus.
Deep cleaning and disinfecting is costing hundreds of millions of dollars and with ridership down, the agencies need budget help.
What of it doesn’t come through?
“The longer term impact would be slowing and stunting the economic recovery and job creation,” Foye said.
Labor representatives also participated in the video conference.
“The U.S. Government has bailed out Wall Street in the midst of many crisis and major profiteering corporations, they can step up to bail out public transit,” said Transport Workers Union International President John Samuelson.
Social distancing will also be essential to the opening of the system. The MTA is looking at agencies in Asia and Europe. NYC Transit has a new campaign on video boards that encourages riders to stand a safe distance apart.
Interim NYC Transit President Sarah Feinberg testified Tuesday before the NYC Council Transportation Committee.
Councilmembers and NYC Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg addressed concerns about “carmageddon” as economies open; some are worried streets will be clogged with drivers avoiding public transit.
The city and MTA work together on the bus infrastructure. NYC Councilmember Donovan Richards (D- Southeast Queens) called for the upcoming city budget to include additional bus lanes.
“I’m supportive of SBS (select bus service) and we should try to preserve that to move people on buses in a safe manner,” Donovan said.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and city council are currently working on their budget proposals.