MTA short of revenue due to lagging ridership, economy

The MTA continues to struggle financially due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as fare receipts are under budget so far this year due to backlogged ridership, officials said Monday.

Subway ridership has increased since the Omicron variant’s inception, but has not fully recovered to pandemic-era highs reached in early December — adding to the precarious nature of the MTA’s financial situation, according to agency bean counters.

“Rider numbers remain well below pre-pandemic levels and the MTA is still well below its revenue budget targets,” said Mark Young, deputy general manager and budget chief, during the MTA’s finance committee meeting on Monday.

Overall, the agency’s revenue fell $153 million under budget, with revenue at the MTA’s various subsidiaries falling 21% to 31%, Young said. Rental vehicle tax revenue also fell $14 million under budget as fewer people took taxis, according to MTA figures.

The MTA received about $15 billion in federal aid from COVID relief legislation passed in 2020 and 2021, but did not forecast the sharp drop in ridership caused by the Omicron variant wave, according to internal forecasts by The Post.

Rider numbers continue to fall below pre-pandemic numbers.
Rider numbers continue to fall below pre-pandemic numbers.
Christopher Sadowski
MTA hub
Sales fell $153 million under budget, with sales down 21% to 31%.
Peter Gerber

MTA Chief Financial Officer Kevin Willens said officials are reassessing its passenger forecasts, which have not been updated in over a year.

“In terms of sales, we should reach an average of 75% this year,” said Willens about the forecasts calculated by McKinsey consultants at the end of 2020. “We’re supposed to be around 67 and then grow past 80. If ridership just stays at 60%, our revenue gap will only widen as the year progresses.”

Willens said continued low employment in NYC is making it harder to win back ridership.

“Employment in New York City is about 7 1/2% below pre-pandemic levels,” he told board members.

“That’s 350,000 jobs, which would naturally encourage more passengers.” MTA short of revenue due to lagging ridership, economy


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