Hochul punts on new MTA revenue source amid threat of big fare hikes

Hochul punts on new MTA revenue source amid threat of big fare hikes

The MTA wants $600 million this 12 months to keep away from draconian cuts to mass transit service in New York — however how Gov. Kathy Hochul will fill that funds hole remained a thriller Tuesday after her State of the State speech.

Throughout her deal with to the state Legislature presenting her agenda for 2023, Hochul stated, “the MTA is the lifeblood of the New York City metro region, and we’ll continue to invest in and ensure its long-term fiscal health.”

Hochul’s workplace added in a separate briefing that the governor was working with metropolis, state and federal lawmakers on “a comprehensive set of solutions” for the company.

A spokesperson for Hochul stated further funding particulars will likely be included within the governor’s government funds, which is due Feb. 1.

State Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani, who represents half of Queens, stated he was “dismayed by the lack of policy” in regards to the MTA in Hochul’s speech.

“In her silence on addressing the MTA’s operating deficit, Gov. Hochul leaves the possibility of fare hikes and service cuts on the table. This will be the reality if she refuses to invest even the bare minimum in the MTA,” Mamdani stated.

With out new funding sources, MTA officers have warned main service cuts, layoffs and steep fare hikes are attainable. The company final month stated it expects to boost transit fares 5.5% this 12 months, however the enhance might be even better with out funding to fill the hole.

Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute stated Hochul’s omission in her speech of an MTA funding plan “sounds like a statement from a junior partner relative to the Legislature and the city.”

“It is the governor’s job to come up with a specific solution and sell that solution to the Legislature,” Gelinas wrote in an e-mail. “Otherwise, the Legislature is going to create its own ideas in a vacuum.”

Transit officers authorized a funds for 2023 that depends on $600 million of new revenue this 12 months to stability the books. The company will want an additional $1.6 billion in new revenue by 2026 to remain afloat.

The new revenue stream is critical to switch cash from fares, which have plummeted for the reason that pandemic. Mass transit ridership in New York is down by roughly 40% from 2019.

In October, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli sounded the alarm in regards to the fiscal cliff the MTA faces. He wrote that if solely 73% of pre-pandemic riders return by 2026, the MTA may face a $4.6 billion working deficit with out new funding sources.

Throughout her speech on Tuesday, Hochul introduced plans to rezone for extra housing close to subway and commuter railroad stations to spice up ridership in the long run.

Congress in 2020 and 2021 authorized a mixed $15.1 billion in COVID-19 reduction to maintain the MTA afloat — however company management anticipates that cash will dry up by the tip of 2024.

“We want to leave it to the governor to show a path to address those concerns, and then we’ll all work with the legislature to see what is a workable plan,” MTA chairman Janno Lieber said following Hochul’s speech. “We don’t want to cut service to people who rely on the MTA every day of the week because people in more affluent neighborhoods are riding a little less because they can telecommute or remote work or they’re dialing it in from Telluride or East Hampton.”

Transport Employees Union President John Samuelsen, who represents a majority of the MTA’s workforce, stated he expects the governor and Legislature to approve new funding for the MTA via the state funds due April 1.

“If there’s not specificity in the budget we’ll have to figure out what to do about that,” stated Samuelsen.

He advised the MTA may use revenue from its congestion pricing program that’s anticipated to toll motorists who drive south of sixtieth Road in Manhattan subsequent 12 months. This system is required by state legislation to generate not less than $1 billion a 12 months – however just for MTA building tasks and mass transit upgrades.

The Legislature would want to go new laws to permit the MTA to make use of the cash from congestion pricing to cowl the company’s day-to-day working prices.

“During this time of crisis, it only makes sense that if congestion pricing comes along that the money be able to be flexed into the operating budget to mitigate against this, hopefully, short-term crisis,” stated Samuelsen. “Once they’re about to embark on service cuts, I feel folks will likely be lining as much as say, ‘let’s flex this capital cash into the working funds.’

Source link