Losing $240M a Month, Port Authority Reiterates Calls for $3B in Federal Aid

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The Port Authority is requesting $3 billion in federal aid to offset losses associated with the coronavirus pandemic. (Staten Island Advance/Jan Somma-Hammel)Staten Island Advance

Posted August 4, 2020

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- As the Port Authority continues to hemorrhage revenue amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the agency has reiterated calls for the federal government to provide much-needed financial aid.

The Port Authority recently released its six-month financial reports, showing the single worst quarter in agency history due to the massive COVID-related declines in passenger and traffic volumes.

“Due to the global pandemic, Port Authority revenues were down nearly $800 million just through June of this year – an unprecedented number for this agency,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “This region has been hard hit by the pandemic, and the Port Authority was not immune. Without federal assistance, the Port Authority and the region will be forced to feel the weight of this loss for years to come.”

Through June, the Port Authority has seen an approximate $777 million decline in revenue compared to the agency’s expected budget.

The overwhelming majority of those losses coincided with the rise of the coronavirus in the U.S. in late March, with the agency experiencing roughly $240 million in lost revenue each month since then.

Based on current projections, the Port Authority projects a $3 billion loss in revenue through March 2022.

“The Port Authority’s second quarter financial performance is the worst downturn in the Port Authority’s recent history – perhaps in its entire history, and certainly since World War II,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton.

“This decline was completely driven by revenue losses resulting from the precipitous decline in volumes at the agency’s facilities across the region. We continue to tirelessly advocate for federal aid to offset the damage that the revenue loss will inflict on the agency’s Capital Plan,” Cotton continued.

During the virus’ peak in New York, in mid-April, Port Authority airport traffic was down 98% compared to the prior year, with PATH ridership down 94% and bridges and tunnels seeing 64% less traffic.

So far, the Port Authority has identified approximately $200 million in potential savings within the 2020 budget, but officials continue to state that without the delivery of $3 billion in federal aid, the agency will be forced to “urgently reconsider” its capital plan, jeopardizing crucial ongoing infrastructure projects.

Without the federal assistance, the Port Authority says the following projects are at risk:

  • LaGuardia Airport Redevelopment
  • Newark Airport Terminal One Replacement
  • John F. Kennedy Airport Redevelopment
  • AirTrain LaGuardia
  • AirTrain Newark
  • Replacement of the Port Authority Bus Terminal
  • Complete rehabilitation of the George Washington Bridge
  • PATH Extension to Newark Airport
  • PATH Capacity Expansion with New, Longer Trains
  • Cashless Tolling at Hudson River Crossings

“There’s a reason that the Port Authority has long received strong support from both sides of the aisle – the agency has always driven job creation and is poised to play a supportive role in the region’s and the nation’s economic recovery. Our capital plan creates 100,000 good local jobs and leverages more than $10 billion in private money,” said Cotton. “We are asking Congress to provide the Port Authority with direct financial assistance to offset its massive revenue losses so we can ensure critically important capital construction projects can move forward.”

Source: silive