NEW YORK CITY - The MTA will institute 'Draconian measures' that could include massive service cuts and fare hikes without an immediate $12 billion stimulus package from the federal government, officials said.
Subways, buses and the Staten Island Railroad could see a 40 percent cut in service without an immediate influx of federal funds, MTA Chairman Patrick Foye said during an MTA board meeting Wednesday.
"Times are grim," Foye said. "The survivial of the MTA ... lies squarely in the hands of the federal government."
Times between subways could increase up to eight minutes, Staten Island Railroad by 30 minutes and for buses up to 15 minutes, Chief Financial Officer Robert Foran said.
A fare increase of 4 percent slated for 2021 could rise by 1 point and New Yorkers could also see 50 percent service cuts along the Long Island and Metro-North railroads, Foran said.
"Horrendous choices lie ahead," Foye said. "We're facing the worst financial crisis in MTA history."
The MTA will also consider elliminating 7,200 jobs and implementing a wage freeze through 2022, according to Foran.
The Transport Workers Union Local 100 promised to fight layoffs "tooth and nail."
"Transit workers put this city and state on their backs and carried them through the deadly pandemic, risking their own health and lives," President Tony Utano said in a statement. "Thousands became sick and more than 131 died. Layoffs would be an unimaginable shameful betrayal."
Critical upgrades and construction projects, like extending the Second Avenue Subway to 125th Street and installing elevators in dozens of subway stations to make them accessible, would be put on hold.
The news annoyed fed-up straphangers.
"The service is terrible now," said one rider. "And they wanna cut it more? We have to wait and wait for a dirty bus. People are leaving the city for that, and other reasons."
MTA leaders did not take action Wednesday, leaving the door open for the U.S. Senate to provide stimulus.
"The solution to this nightmare is in Washington," Foye said. "We cannot cut our way out of this."
The financial crisis comes after New York's novel coronavirus stay-in-place saw weekday subway ridershipdrop 90 percent to 366,000 at its lowest.
The MTA has kept transit running with the $3.8 billion it received through the U.S. CARES Act in the spring, but that cash ran out on July 24, Foye said.
Subway ridership remains at about 25 percent of what it was in 2019, Metro North at 17 percent and buses at 57 percent.
"We're losing about $200 million dollars a week," Foye said.
During the public commentary session, New Yorkers proposed in-state funding options - such as a gas tax or subway seat advertising - in lieu of federal stimulus they argued will likely not be provided.
And state senators Diane Savino and Andrew Gounardes phoned in to throw support behind a federal stimulus.
"We all know the MTA is facing dire financial circumstances," Gounardes said. "If we don't get federal assistance, we will have to face debilitating cuts to our system."
MTA commissioners were stunned at proposals they said raised serious concerns about the future of the city.
"Service cuts have to be the very last thing that we look at," said Commissioner Andrew Albert. "The New York way of life is at stake right here."