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Engel Joins Bipartisan New York Members Calling for Increased Funding for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)

Engel Joins Bipartisan New York Members Calling for Increased Funding for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)

Congressman Eliot L. Engel joined Congressman Adriano Espaillat and fifteen of their New York colleagues in sending a letter to House Leadership seeking additional relief for public transit agencies across the nation and requesting $3.9 billion for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) to maintain operations through 2020.

The Members wrote, “The MTA is transporting thousands of nurses, doctors, critical care staff, public utility employees and other essential workers to deal with the nation’s largest COVID-19 outbreak. At the same time, the MTA has worked with the public to take aggressive action to limit non-essential travel that has helped to mitigate the spread of this pandemic. These efforts have come at the expense of revenue, tax support, and most importantly the lives of 68 MTA employees.  We know the MTA and other transit agencies will carry on in meeting the needs of the public, but we must they received federal support to continue operations all of their facilities.”

“The New York Delegation certainly understands the struggle the MTA and its workers are facing in dealing with COVID-19,” Engel said. “We are pushing for robust federal funding to help the MTA maintain operation through 2020 as part of our next stimulus, in addition to much more PPE for the MTA workers who every day put their health on the line to keep New York City moving. In the future, we cannot reopen the economy without a fully functioning MTA.”

Full text of the letter is available below:

 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi                                                 Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

U.S. House of Representatives                                   U.S. House of Representatives

H-232, The Capitol                                                     H-204, The Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20515                                            Washington, D.C. 20515

 

The Honorable Mitch McConnell                              The Honorable Charles E. Schumer

Majority Leader                                                          Democratic Leader

United States Senate                                                   United States Senate

S-230, The Capitol                                                      S-220, The Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20510                                            Washington, D.C. 20510

 

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer:

 

As you work diligently to craft additional relief packages to respond to the economic impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, we ask that you provide additional relief to public transit agencies and want to express our support for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) $3.9 billion request to maintain operations through 2020. The MTA is transporting thousands of nurses, doctors, critical care staff, public utility employees and other essential workers to deal with the nation’s largest COVID-19 outbreak. At the same time, the MTA has worked with the public to take aggressive action to limit non-essential travel that has helped to mitigate the spread of this pandemic. These efforts have come at the expense of revenue, tax support, and most importantly the lives of 68 MTA employees.  We know the MTA and other transit agencies will carry on in meeting the needs of the public, but we must they received federal support to continue operations all of their facilities.

As you know, public transit agencies around the country are facing immediate, enormous funding gaps due to sharp declines in ridership due to mandatory shelter-in-place orders and cautionary social distancing. In some cases, nearly 90% declines in ridership, combined with plummeting sales-tax receipts, have resulted in multi-billion-dollar revenue losses, much of which will simply never be recouped. These fiscal constraints have left public transit agencies without the funding needed to maintain their operating budgets – even as they scale back some service to match the decline in demand.

We thank you for heeding the call for help in the CARES Act by providing $25 billion in funding for public transit agencies’ operations, including $4 billion for the MTA. However, as New York and other states and cities continues to implement social distancing policies for at least another month, it is clear more aid will be needed. Furthermore, if a forthcoming stimulus package does not include financial assistance for public transit agencies, they will be forced to cannibalize their capital programs to support their operating budgets. That means that once this crisis is finally over, important infrastructure projects that provide thousands of jobs and promote economic development for dozens of communities and businesses around the country will feel extended negative impacts, inhibiting the ability of our economy to rebound. We therefore urge to you to provide swift assistance to transit agencies and strongly support the MTA’s $3.9 billion request, which in turn will support the thousands of transit workers who are providing critical services even as most Americans stay isolated at home.

Additionally, as you craft this stimulus package, we urge you to include provisions that hold public transit agencies harmless when it comes to traditional federal formula funding. Most formula funding provided by the Federal Transit Administration is allocated based on annual ridership statistics. So it will come as no surprise that the jurisdictions most severely affected by COVID-19 will suffer long-term losses if their significantly-reduced 2020 ridership statistics are used to calculate future funding. In most cases, these formulas are set forth in law and therefore can only be resolved through changes in statute. We therefore hope you will include language that protects public transit agencies from suffering a secondary crisis as our economy finally recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. While immediate resources are needed across the board, we must keep in mind the need to ensure our economy can bounce back as quickly as possible.

We know you are working around the clock and in a bipartisan fashion to respond to this crisis, and we appreciate your attention to this issue at this critical time.

 

Sincerely,

 

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