MTA to get most of $ 14 billion COVID-19 emergency package for tristate transit agencies

A compromise reached by New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will see the MTA get more than $ 10 billion out of a $ 14 billion COVID-19 relief package for transit agencies, officials said Tuesday.

The agreement ends a dispute between the three states over how to distribute funding from the federal government’s second coronavirus rescue law, which was passed in March.

New Jersey sought to use a federal funding formula that catered to the people of each state’s urban region. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority argued that the money should be distributed based on needs and that its agencies – including Long Island Rail Road – had been hardest hit by the pandemic.

“We compromised,” MTA President Janno Lieber said at a Manhattan news conference Wednesday morning. “That’s how it works in the real world when you have strong attitudes.”

Under the agreement, $ 10.85 billion will go to New York – about $ 10.1 billion, of which will go to the MTA. New Jersey will receive $ 2.66 billion – about $ 1 billion less than originally requested. And Connecticut will get $ 474 million.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer negotiated the deal with Senator Bob Menendez (DN.J.) Monday night, a spokesman for Schumer said.

In a statement, Schumer said the funds “demonstrate the enormous need the pandemic created and the mass transit crisis that has faced both riders and workers.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul also credited in a statement “a series of productive talks with my fellow governors.”

“New York City and the Tristate region cannot fully recover from the pandemic without our transit agencies effectively and efficiently moving millions of people in and out of New York City every day,” Hochul said.

The pandemic gave the MTA a devastating blow as rider numbers and other sources of revenue plummeted, resulting in an expected budget gap of $ 4.8 billion this year alone.

MTA hopes to raise additional COVID-19 funding from a $ 2.2 billion competitive program.

Lieber said Tuesday that the authority also stands to receive about $ 3.5 billion in federal funding from President Joe Biden’s $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill passed Friday. He said the money will go to a “wide range of different projects”, including those that address accessibility at stations, make buses more environmentally friendly and promote the Second Avenue Subway mega-project. He said a separate $ 24 billion pool to fund the Northeastern railroad corridor could benefit projects, including the modernization of Penn Station.

Lieber also weighed in on Tuesday on several recent developments involving current and former LIRR employees accused of overtime and wage abuse. Last week, a former LIRR supervisor, John Nugent, was sentenced to 5 months in prison and another 5 months in prison after admitting to raising more than $ 34,000 in false overtime.

So on Monday, the office of the MTA Inspector General revealed that three LIRR chairmen had been suspended for stealing thousands of dollars from the railroad by claiming they were working overtime, even when caught on surveillance while spending time at home.

“It’s not just an outrage when people tear the system off, but it hurts everyone. It gives the honorable workers on Long Island Rail Road … a bad reputation,” Lieber said. “We will not find ourselves in it. And we will keep getting down on it.”


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