Dec 6, 2020 - Economy

Transit officials across the U.S. brace for steep service cuts

A person boarding a subway.

A Brooklyn MTA station on Nov. 18 in New York City. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Public transit officials in cities across the country are pleading for federal help, as many brace for steep budget cuts in response to financial crises brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: Transit agencies have seen ridership and fare revenues plummet since the beginning of the pandemic. With no help from Congress yet in sight, some "have started to outline doomsday service plans that would take effect next year," writes the New York Times.

Yes, but: A bipartisan group of senators has outlined a $908 billion coronavirus relief package that includes $15 billion for public transit agencies.

  • The plan would provide just under half of the $32 billion that transit leaders have called for, per the NYT.

Zoom in: Officials in New York City, facing a $15.9 billion deficit through 2024, unveiled a plan that would cut subway and bus service by 40%, while slashing commuter rail service in half, per the Times.

The bottom line: The budget slashes "could hobble the recoveries of major cities from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco, where reliable transit is a lifeblood of the local economies," writes the Times.

  • The cuts would especially harm minority and low-income people, as they tend to use public transportation more frequently than other groups, the Times notes.
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