Rockland commuters anxious about the fate of the Pascack Valley Line can rest easy. On Sunday night, Senator Chuck Schumer announced via Twitter that the latest Covid-19 relief bill will provide funds for the cash-strapped agency and allow the MTA to avoid the “devastating” budget cuts forecasted during their November board meeting. The MTA had previously warned that without any federal assistance, the organization would have to eliminate all rail service for commuters living on the western side of the Hudson River and lay off 9,000 employees.
Last week the MTA passed a 2021 operating budget that avoided those cuts but only under the assumption that they would receive a federal bailout. Now that that bailout has materialized the authority can officially rule out such drastic measures.
“I’m proud we succeeded for transit systems across America, I’m proud to deliver more than $4 billion in relief for @MTA” tweeted Senator Schumer, after the deal was announced on Sunday night, “thank you to all of the riders and workers who stood together to make this possible.”
The four billion dollar bailout means the agency can breathe a sigh of relief for 2021. In addition to eliminating all west of Hudson service, the MTA would have also needed to halve their east of the Hudson services after facing historic shortfalls in revenue and ridership due to the ongoing pandemic.
“To be clear, we are still facing an $8 billion deficit in the years ahead, but this is a promising first step that will help protect the local, state, and national economies in the short term,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye.