The MTA faces years of “suffocating” debt if the federal government doesn’t come through with badly-needed aid, state comptroller Tom DiNapoli said Tuesday.
“Failure to fund the MTA now could disrupt maintenance and repairs and increase the MTA’s debt to suffocating levels that could take multiple generations to recover from,” said DiNapoli, whose office released its annual audit of the $18 billion transit agency’s finances.
“Washington needs to step up to help the MTA if our regional economy is going to fully recover.”
MTA officials are seeking $12 billion from President Trump and Congress amid what they’ve called a “fiscal tsunami” of depleted fare, toll and tax revenues since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officials say the agency needs $3.9 billion just to get to the end of the year. Service cuts and layoffs may start in November if the federal funding does not materialize, Chairman Pat Foye has said.
Added to the MTA’s financial woes are the Trump administration’s delay of congestion pricing tolls and a mound of debt expected to top $50 billion by 2024, according to DiNapoli’s analysis.
The MTA has the option to borrow another $10 billion, but DiNapoli warned the existing debt “is already swallowing up dwindling revenue.”
Any additional borrowing “should be a desperate choice of last,” his office said in a press release.
“Interest rates on MTA bonds have begun to rise since the pandemic, and the cost of borrowing may continue to be more expensive than in the past,” according to the audit.
“The MTA… currently does not have the financial capacity to cover the debt service on these bonds.”
In a statement, MTA Chairman Pat Foye said the report is “further independent validation that the MTA faces fiscal calamity for years to come if the federal government does not step up.”
“Continued inaction by Congress will not only hurt our customers and employees, but also the economic rebound of New York and the nation,” Foye said.
Additional reporting by Bernadette Hogan
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