The infrastructure bill just signed by President Joe Biden is already paying off for the millions of riders who take public transit in and around New York City every day. Hours before New York governor Kathy Hochul flew to meet the president on Monday, she announced that Metropolitan Transportation Authority fare hikes will be suspended for at least six months and service cuts planned for 2023 are “off the table,” thanks to billions in federal funding secured in the bill.
Restricted service has been a concern for months now, as severe drops in ridership during the pandemic impacted funding for the forever-embattled agency. Before the coronavirus hit New York, fares accounted for around 38 percent of total revenue, and while the daily number of subway, bus, and commuter rail riders has recovered, it still remains around 40 percent below pre-pandemic levels. In February, the MTA warned of a “doomsday” scenario in which subway and bus services would be cut by 40 percent without federal aid. But funding from the infrastructure bill, combined with billions in COVID relief cash hashed out in a deal with New Jersey and Connecticut last week, will keep the single-ride cost at $2.75.
Earlier this year, the MTA delayed a 4 percent fare hike to the end of 2021 in an effort to bring back riders. The agency will provide more information on its new financial situation boosted by federal aid and its 2022 budget at a board meeting on Wednesday. Other major impacts in New York from the trillion-dollar infrastructure bill could include the extension of the Second Avenue subway, a new rail tunnel connecting to New Jersey, and upgrades to airports in the tristate area.