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MTA could eliminate Pascack Valley, Port Jervis lines if federal bailout doesn't come through

Lohud.com, Westchester County logo Lohud.com, Westchester County 8/26/2020 Thomas C. Zambito, Rockland/Westchester Journal News
a train is parked on the side of a building: A NJ Transit train arrives at the Nanuet Metro-North/NJ Transit Station on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. © John Meore/The Journal News A NJ Transit train arrives at the Nanuet Metro-North/NJ Transit Station on Tuesday, March 12, 2019.

The cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority, coping with unprecedented revenue losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic, would eliminate Metro-North Railroad service on commuter lines that serve Rockland and Orange counties under a doomsday budget plan unveiled Wednesday.

Eliminating service on the Pascack Valley and Port Jervis lines, the only rail options in Rockland County for Manhattan-bound commuters, would save Metro-North some $25 million a year, MTA officials said on Wednesday.

The West-of-Hudson service shutdown was included in a list of possible cuts the MTA would be forced to make if the federal government fails to deliver some $12 billion in aid the agency says it needs to keep operating over the coming months.

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“The solution to this nightmare resides in Washington and the financial issues we face dwarf what the MTA’s predecessors faced in the Great Depression,” MTA chairman Patrick Foye said Wednesday at a special meeting of the MTA board in Manhattan.

Frank Borelli, Rockland County’s lone representative on the board, said if such cuts were made, Rockland County would have to consider whether it wants to continue as part of the MTA.

“This is catastrophic,” Borelli said. “This is an absolute elimination of MTA services for Rockland County and counties north of here. I don’t understand why Rockland County would even be part of the MTA if there is no longer service provided to the residents of this county.”

Rockland County Executive Ed Day and Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus joined Borelli in issuing a statement opposing the cuts.

“If our rail service were eliminated for a mere savings of $25 million per year, there would be no reason for Rockland and Orange to even be in the MTA anymore,” the statement said. “There is already a $40 million annual value gap between what Rockland County pays into the MTA and what it gets back in service; this has been the case for decades. We understand the need for there to be cuts and reductions as we are dealing with the realities of this pandemic in our budgets as well, but MTA needs to find a way without the proposal to eliminate all West-of-Hudson service. We are outraged that MTA would even consider such a proposal.”

Without the federal bailout, the MTA is considering wage freezes, 50% cuts to all commuter rail service and the delay of major capital projects.

This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: MTA could eliminate Pascack Valley, Port Jervis lines if federal bailout doesn't come through

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