NYC Subway Service may be cut by 40%, commuter rail by half without Fed aid

The MTA says it will have to implement a slate of sweeping service cuts and changes without $12 billion in federal aid through 2021, including potentially cutting bus and subway service by up to 40 percent and commuter rail service by 50 percent.

That would translate to up to an 8-minute longer wait for the next train and up to a 15-minute longer wait for the next bus. Staff cuts — permanent reduction of more than 7,200 positions — may also be required.

The cash-strapped agency made the announcement at a virtual finance meeting Wednesday. It says it must take immediate action without $3.9 billion in additional federal funding this year — and that the pain will only get worse.

“Expenses cannot be reduced quickly and significantly enough to offset the 40 percent reduction in revenue we have experienced and are expecting,” the MTA said.

The Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North may have to see an up to 50 percent cut in service, which would save the MTA nearly $160 million annually. Changes could include reduced service frequencies to 60 minutes on heavier ridership lines and 120 minutes on lower ridership lines. Service may be eliminated on one or more LIRR branches, and Metro-North-owned lines west of the Hudson River that serve Rockland and Orange counties in New York (which are serviced by NJ Transit) may be cut altogether as well. The MTA estimates it may have to eliminate nearly 850 commuter rail positions.

MTA Chairman Pat Foye said the agency is losing $200 million a week. Not even the Great Depression saw a dramatic drop in ridership like the pandemic-induced one, he said.

“If the Senate doesn’t act we will have no choice,” Foye added. “Draconian measures would be needed, with massive job cuts and service cuts in the weeks and months ahead.”

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