MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye appeared live today on WCBS 880 with Steve Scott to discuss the impact that the U.S. Senate’s passage of the American Recovery Plan will have on the MTA’s finances
A transcript of the interview appears below.
Steve Scott: The COVID relief bill passed by the Senate includes $6 billion in federal funding for the MTA and that money cannot get here soon enough. Live to our Newsline, MTA Chairman Pat Foye is with us. Mr. Foye, good morning. Does this money mean that feared service cuts are off the table now at the MTA?
Patrick Foye: Steve, this is an incredible, incredible news. The, Senator Schumer announced on Sunday that the MTA will receive about $6.5 billion, that's extraordinarily desperately needed funding. His leadership as a majority leader, Speaker Pelosi and the New York congressional delegation have done great work. We will avoid drastic service cuts on subways, buses, Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road as a result of this federal funding in President Biden's American Rescue Plan, and we also will avoid layoffs and furloughs of thousands of our colleagues. It's great news for MTA customers and employees.
Scott: Service reductions on the Long Island Rail Road are going into effect this morning. Was the LIRR hit harder than other lines? Why was that? And is there a chance maybe that that more service will come back?
Foye: Well, we expect service will come back and frankly on Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North, the next service adjustments will be up. But commuter rails in the region and around the country were hardest hit. The latest data for Long Island Rail Road is we've lost 75% of our customers compared to pre-COVID. Actually on Metro-North we've lost a even higher percentage. We're looking at, the we're looking at service, I can tell you I spoke to Phil Eng president of Long Island Rail Road this morning. The trains that are operating right now are counting 8%, 11%, 14%, 15%, 16%, 18%, 31%, 38% of capacity. We're going to monitor that closely but the next service adjustments on Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North, assuming ridership comes back which we are confident it will, it's just a question of when, will be increases in service.
Scott: Overnight subway service was recently expanded by a couple of hours in the city. We now have two vaccination sites at Yankee Stadium and the Javits Center offering shots 24 hours a day. Will you restore full overnight service to help people get to those vaccination sites?
Foye: The answer is we fully intend to bring back 24-hour subway service to the city that doesn't sleep. We are running, for instance, additional service to Citi Field which is also a 24-hour service. We're running additional bus service, shuttles, special shuttles to Medgar Evers College and York College where there are vaccination sites and we're looking forward to bringing back 24-hour service as soon as we can.
Scott: Can you offer a timetable as to when 24/7 service might return?
Foye: I would think, Steve that as the number of New Yorkers who are vaccinated, and approximately, actually incredible progress, a million New Yorkers received doses last week; 5.5 million doses have been, vaccination doses have been given to New Yorkers. I don't think it'll be long before 24-hour service is restored. And we're looking forward to doing that.
Scott: MTA Chairman Pat Foye. Mr. Foye, as always, thank you for talking with us.
Foye: Steve, thanks for having me.