M.T.A. Warns of Doomsday Subway Cuts Without $12 Billion in Federal Aid

Facing a staggering financial crisis and a stalemate in Washington, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority outlined a doomsday plan on Wednesday if it did not receive as much as $12 billion in federal aid, including slashing subway and bus service in New York City by 40 percent.

The plan paints a bleak picture for riders: Wait times would increase by eight minutes on the subway and 15 minutes on buses; Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North trains would run at 60- or 120-minute intervals. Upgrades to the subway’s signal systems, which have been the source of many delays, would be scrapped.

The M.T.A. — which runs the city’s subway, buses and the two commuter rails — laid out the plan as part of a broader political strategy to pressure Washington to provide assistance.

The agency is facing a staggering $16.2 billion deficit through 2024, after the pandemic wiped out its operating revenue — which comes from fares, tolls and subsidies — virtually overnight. Ridership on the subway, which plummeted by 90 percent in April, has only reached a quarter of usual levels, even as more and more New Yorkers return to work.

The transit agency has requested $12 billion in aid to cover its operating losses through 2024. But after negotiations over the next stimulus package stalled earlier this month, immediate federal support did not appear to be forthcoming.

“The future of the M.T.A. and the future of the New York region lies squarely in the hands of the federal government,” the authority’s chairman, Patrick J. Foye, said on Wednesday. “Without this additional federal funding, we will be forced to take draconian measures, the impact of which will be felt across the system and the region for decades to come.”

The plan is the first detailed picture of what the sprawling public transportation network, which acts as the backbone of the New York region’s economy, could look like in the wake of the pandemic and the current financial crisis.

Other hallmark infrastructure projects, like extending the Second Avenue Subway into Harlem and connecting commuter trains to Manhattan’s West Side at Pennsylvania Station, would also be paused indefinitely.

The transit agency would also delay purchasing a fleet of electric buses and new subway cars, and adding elevators to stations to make them more accessible. It would also eliminate a widely hailed program that provides accessible vehicles on-demand to paratransit customers.

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