Digest: MTA says it's losing $200 million a week, details deficit woes

News Wire Digest second section for July 23: Another setback for Caltrain ballot measure; volunteers at Canada's Exporail receive national honor
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MTA

More Thursday morning rail news:

MTA says 'unpalatable' cuts are on table to address growing deficit

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is losing $200 million a week, will run out of federal coronavirus relief funds this month, and says service cuts, layoffs, and increased bridge and tunnel tolls are all possibilities in an effort to balance its budget. Newsday reports that MTA chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye said every option “is not optimal, unacceptable, unpalatable. But given the fiscal tsunami that we face, we’ve got an obligation to consider all of those things.” At Wednesday’s MTA board meeting, the agency’s chief financial officer, Robert Foran, said the agency is projecting a deficit reaching $16.2 billion by 2024, in part because estimates now are that ridership won’t resume normal levels until 2023. An MTA press release reports the agency has identified $1 billion in savings in 2021 and $5.13 billion through 2024 to be achieved with reductions in overtime, outside contracts, and other non-labor expenses, and an aggressive effort to find in-house savings is ongoing. The MTA is seeking some $3.9 billion in emergency federal aid; if it arrives, the agency might avoid some of the most extreme cost-cutting measures.

Santa Clara County delays decision on Caltrain ballot measure
Caltrain’s effort to secure a dedicated funding stream through a ballot measure took another hit Wednesday when Santa Clara County supervisors deferred action on the sales tax proposal until Aug. 6 — the last day to approve initiatives for this November’s election — according to a report by the San Jose Spotlight. Caltrain, hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic because of its heavy reliance on ticket revenue, says it could be forced to shut down without the money from the one-eighth cent tax. But the measure has been caught up in a political struggle between the three counties served by Caltrain, with San Francisco and Santa Clara counties seeking changes to a structure that has the commuter railroad run by San Mateo County’s transit agency [see “Digest: Legislators decry new Caltrain funding proposal,” July 20, 2020].

Volunteers at Canada's Exporail honored
Volunteers at Exporail, the Canadian Railway Museum in Saint-Constant, Quebec, have won the Canadian Museums Association Volunteer Award. Exporail, the Canadian Railroad Historical Association, and the Canadian Federation of Friends of Museums announced the award, which recognizes groups or individuals who volunteer to a museum or heritage institution and have made a significant impact within the museum community. More than 130 men and women currently volunteer their time at Exporail, which opened in 1961, and donated 26,504 hours of eeffort in 2019.
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