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MTA Says It Will Be Forced To Take Drastic Measures If Federal Government Doesn't Provide $12 Billion In Aid

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is in dire straits. It says it needs billons of dollars in federal funding or the way people commute will drastically change.

The agency detailed what that could mean during an emergency meeting on Wednesday morning, CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis reported.

With a significant drop in commuters through the pandemic, the MTA is trying to make up for revenue losses, saying if it does not get federal help we could be looking at service cuts, fare hikes, and even layoffs.

Without $12 billion in federal aid, the agency says it could be forced to reduce service on subways and buses by up to 40%.

"We are facing the worst crisis in MTA history and we will be forced to take draconian actions without substantial federal aid," MTA Chairman Patrick Foye said.

MOREMTA Warns 'Doomsday Scenario' Of Deep Service Cuts If Feds Don't Send Financial Help

Subway headways -- the time between trains -- could increase up to eight minutes, buses up to 15 minutes.

On top of that, an even bigger fare hike than the 4% planned and a potential permanent reduction of more than 8,000 positions, something that did not sit well with John Samuelsen, international president of the Transport Workers Union.

"An absolute betrayal of front-line MTA workers who risked it all on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19," Samuelsen said.

The Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North could also be forced to reduce service up to 50%.

"I think it's ridiculous. You got 8 million people here in the city. How is everyone supposed to go back and forth?" said Guy Caputo, a commuter from West Babylon on Long Island.

For drivers, bridge and tunnel tolls would go up an extra dollar, resident discounts could be eliminated, and peak period pricing implemented.

"I'm not surprised. Theres no money coming in. What do we expect them to do?" said Lauri Szymanski of the Upper West Side.

"It's gonna add more to the financial hardship," Caputo added.

This could also pause upcoming construction projects, including additional handicapped access station upgrades and Second Avenue Subway Phase 2.

At the MTA emergency meeting, a number of people shared input in the public comments.

"Our residents depend on the MTA to get to and from work. They're already struggling to keep their jobs through this pandemic. Decreases in services will make it more difficult for them to get around and increased fares will make it harder to pay for other necessities like food and rent," one person said.

"I'm here today to urge our elected leaders and every riding passenger to advocate for the critical federal funding needed help MTA through this unprecedented financial crisis," another person said.

Foye said bus ridership is down 45%, subways 75%, and the agency is losing $200 million a week. Its sole focus now is on survival.

"The MTA has never, even during The Great Depression of the 1930s, seen ridership declines as severe and as sustained as we are experiencing right now. And the MTA has never, even during The Great Depression, seen revenue losses of this magnitude," Foye said.

While no action was taken Wednesday, Foye said what is being outlined is what could come if the federal government doesn't step in. He added a vote could happen in November.

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