During the peak of the pandemic last spring, MTA buses became the workhorse of the transit system, shuttling more daily riders than the subway for the first time in decades.
Even after fare collection resumed in late August, the ridership decline on buses never fell nearly as steep as subway use.
But when the MTA unveiled its proposed “Doomsday” cuts Wednesday — potentially slashing service by 40% by next May and eliminating more than 9,000 jobs — bus workers were set to absorb close to two-thirds of the positions lost.
Riders who rely on buses, meanwhile, were left wondering how they’d get around a city still slowed by COVID-19.
“Believe me, it’s going to be ugly,” said Michelle Singleton, 55, a nurse from Harlem who, prior to the pandemic, commuted on the M11. “That’s why I won’t be riding the bus any more.”
At the agency’s monthly board meeting, MTA officials presented worst-case scenarios should the agency be unable to secure $12 billion in emergency federal funding to help close the enormous deficits created by the pandemic.
Without a bailout, the MTA faces a slew of unappetizing prospects — including higher-than-projected fare and toll increases, the elimination of seven-day and 30-day unlimited MetroCards and significant cuts to subway, bus and commuter rail frequency.
“We know that any reduction in service will hurt the city and the region, including customers who need us most,” Patrick Foye, the MTA chairperson said at the meeting. “But without the certainty of substantial federal dollars, there is no recourse.”
For buses, that could mean the elimination of entire lines, a slowdown on long-planned route redesigns in each borough, even the loss of a next-bus texting service and on-board WiFi.
Transit fares in New York will go up next spring — and the MTA is considering eliminating unlimited ride MetroCards as a part of the hike.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board on Wednesday voted to seek fare hikes that boost passenger revenue by 4%. Over the next two months, transit officials will review a slate of proposals to meet that target.
One idea is to keep the base subway and bus fare at $2.75 while eliminating the seven- and 30-day unlimited ride passes.
Another is to raise the base fare to $2.85. More options on the table include increasing the surcharge for new MetroCards from $1 to $3 and no longer allowing coin payments on buses.