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New York City Transit Chief Lieber Plans for a Future With Fewer Subway Riders

  • ‘We need a new financial model’ to replace money from fares
  • MTA estimates $1.5 billion farebox revenue loss in 2022
Janno Lieber at MTA headquarters in Downtown Manhattan on Feb. 25.
Janno Lieber at MTA headquarters in Downtown Manhattan on Feb. 25.Photographer: Amir Hamja/Bloomberg

New York subways are still only a little more than half full two years after the pandemic rocked the finances of the city’s all-important transit system. The head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, who took the helm of the largest U.S. transportation network in July, says he’s preparing for a future where millions of riders just don’t return. 

Instead of financing 40% of the agency’s budget with fare revenue, Chief Executive Officer Janno Lieber said he wants to appeal to city and state government to start funding trains and buses more like essential public services -- like trash collection or policing. Riders can adapt their behavior as well, minimizing wait times by checking schedules through the MTA’s mobile app.