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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.

Go deeper

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: CDC says some immunocompromised people can get fourth COVID shot — FDA panel endorses Pfizer vaccines for 5-11 year olds — Moderna says vaccine shows strong immune response in kids
  2. Health: COVID cases, deaths at meat plants were far higher than previously thought — 96% of Tyson Foods employees vaccinated ahead of mandate deadline — U.S. releases updated vaccination, testing rules for foreign travelers
  3. Politics: Louisiana lifts mask mandate except for some schools — Alabama governor orders state agencies to fight federal vaccine mandate — Axios-Ipsos poll: Confidence in Biden COVID recovery tumbles
  4. Education: Benefits of vaccine for children outweigh risks, FDA says — Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.