Earlier this year, things were looking up for the future of our beleaguered public transit system. Last year, the transit advocacy group Riders Alliance used $80,000 from The Trust to help win a congestion pricing plan and a transfer tax on luxury real estate that would generate revenue for our trains, subways, and Access-A-Ride program. It also helped secure a $51 billion, 10-year capital spending plan that would bring much-needed improvements. Train signals (some of which date back to the 1930s) were slated to get replaced, elevators were scheduled to be built, and new subway cars were promised. But much of this may be derailed by COVID-19.
“The MTA is facing the biggest fiscal crisis in its history, losing about $1 billion a month from expected fare and tax revenue,” says Betsy Plum, the executive director of Riders Alliance. “Our members fought for federal rescue funds and secured $3.8 billion for the MTA. But, the future of our public transportation system hinges on at least $3.9 billion more in additional federal aid.”
With a new grant of $80,000, Riders Alliance will make the case to lawmakers that investing in public transit is essential to our city’s recovery. It will also work to end federal barriers to congestion pricing implementation, win transit service changes to aid essential workers and communities of color hardest hit by COVID-19, and protect riders from long-term service cuts and fare hikes spurred by the coronavirus crisis.