On her way to Washington on Monday to watch President Joe Biden sign a federal infrastructure bill, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul had good news for New York City commuters.
The funding the state expects to get from the $1.2 trillion spending package should be enough to keep the state from raising fares for Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) users, Hochul said during a news conference at Albany International Airport.
MTA officials approved a 4 percent fare increase for this year in 2018, but the authority’s board delayed it temporarily in January, citing the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it had on ridership.
Hochul told reporters freezing the fare hike will help those who rely on the buses and trains, “especially in this era of inflation.”
That’s important since increases in the costs of living already are affecting people in other ways, she said.
“This is really affecting people’s ability to just put food on their table,” Hochul said.
The infrastructure bill is expected to give the MTA, the country’s largest transit system, more than $10 billion in funding, according to a news release from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. The MTA-owned Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North commuter systems will get an additional $2.6 billion.
That funding will mean service cuts the authority announced in 2023 and 2024 are “off the table,” Hochul said.
While previous spending bills, such as the COVID-19 relief funding Congress approved in December, provided money for the MTA, transit officials announced in February the agency still faced an $8 billion deficit.
Without filling that, future cuts in service would have been necessary.
As commuters celebrated the news, a key advisory board to the MTA said the bill the president signed into law Monday gives the authority some time to recover from the pandemic.
The Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC), however, added the agency’s officials and New York leaders need to do more to shore up its finances.
“We still need to keep looking for more dedicated operating funds, so we aren’t put in such a difficult situation going forward,” a PCAC statement read. “We will continue to work with the MTA and our state elected officials for much-needed sustainable funding options in the long run. We are hoping for the additional funds our region – and riders – need to build back better and keep the transit system running as much as possible and affordable for all.”