The COVID-19 pandemic could force severe cuts that would scale back New York City subway service by as much as 40 per cent, slash bus routes, raise fares by as much as 35 per cent, and lay off more than 9,000 transit workers.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is reportedly considering an austerity plan that would go into effect if the federal government doesn’t provide $12billion in emergency aid by the end of next year.
The plan, details of which were first reported by the New York Daily News, would save the transit agency money by slashing 9,367 workers from the payroll.
Most of those who would be laid off - 8,238 employees, or 88 per cent - are transit workers who man the subways and bus services.
Empty seats are seen above on a New York City subway car in June. The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically reduced ridership on the city's public transportation systems
The other 12 per cent - 1,129 employees - would come from the Metro-North Railroad, the Long Island Rail Road, and the MTA’s bridge-and-tunnel operations, according to the Daily News.
The layoffs are expected to save the transit agency $1.27billion per year.
The MTA is also expected to increase fares and tolls, though the agency has yet to indicate by how much.
In August, MTA officials floated a proposal to increase fares from their current $2.75 per ride to $3.75 - a 36 per cent jump.
The frequency of bus and subway service would be cut, though it remains unclear to what extent.
Some bus routes could be axed entirely, though riders will not be left more than a half-mile away from another bus route or subway line, according to the Daily News.
Overall, service on bus routes that remain active will be slashed by a third.
As for the subway, weekday schedules would be pared down by 40 per cent while some weekend services may be suspended entirely.
Critics of the plan say that fewer trains on the rails or subway mean longer waits and more crowded cars while the pandemic continues.