Washington is sending the MTA almost $770 million in additional COVID-19 relief funding to run its day-to-day operations.
The Federal Transit Administration announced Monday that an additional $769.2 million will flow to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority through President Biden’s American Rescue Plan on top of $14.5 billion in pandemic aid Uncle Sam already earmarked for the New York agency.
“The MTA is the lifeblood of the New York City region, and investing in quality, reliable transit service is key to our economic recover,” said Governor Kathy Hochul in a statement on March 7. “This additional $769 million in funding brings the total federal pandemic aid for the MTA to over $15 billion and is a victory for New Yorkers who rely on the system.”
It is part of $2.2 billion in grants the FTA revealed Monday going to 35 recipients across 18 states, with the MTA getting by far the largest single share.
In January, the agency got a $6.2 lump sum as part of the $14.5 billion in federal funds, which officials at the time expected to be the final batch.
But MTA applied for the extra money the feds offered to agencies that showed the need to cover costs of daily operations, cleaning and sanitizing, “combating the spread of pathogens in transit,” and keeping employees, according to the agency.
The Authority’s subsidiary New York City Transit, which runs the subways and buses, is also the largest public transit agency in North America.
The federal cash allows MTA to offset the revenue drops resulting from plummeting ridership during the pandemic.
After a slump in commutes over the new year due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, daily trip numbers have started climbing again to 59% of 2019 levels on the subways averaged over the past week and to 64.4% on buses.
MTA will also no longer have to fill a $499 million hole that agency financial gurus forecast for 2025, which they originally planned to pay for by borrowing money, also known as deficit financing.
That was despite the agency planning to resume fare and toll increases next year and in 2025, according to the latest financial outlook from February.
Governor Hochul, who controls the MTA, pushed the agency to put off fare hikes for this year.
Transit officials will still have to work with the city and state to find different funding sources to fill gaps starting in 2026 when they run out of the COVID relief funds, according to MTA spokesperson Eugene Resnick.