The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is calling on Congress for a $3 billion bailout in direct federal funds as its airport traffic has fallen 97 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, the agency reports that PATH ridership is down 95 percent while bridge and tunnel traffic has fallen 50 percent.
As Congress drafts legislation to provide aid to state and local governments, the Port Authority wrote to Congressional leaders, noting that funds must be made available to ensure the agency can advance its capital plan which would create more than 100,000 good local jobs while driving over $20 billion in both private and public spending in the next five years, beginning this summer, fueling the region’s economic recovery.
“Our region cannot afford, now, to walk away from these jobs or these billions of dollars of construction spending our capital plan would inject into the region and the country,” Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole said. “We thank the New York and New Jersey Congressional delegations for their strong support and look forward to working with them to obtain the financial assistance needed to offset our deep revenue losses, preserve our capital plan, and create over 100,000 good, local jobs.”
Without direct financial assistance, the Port Authority will be forced to urgently reconsider its capital plan, including drastic cuts to a variety of critical infrastructure projects across the region from major airport redevelopment to bus terminal replacement and improvements to PATH stations. For a region that represents 15 percent of the national GDP, cutting projects and eliminating tens of thousands of jobs will have a profound impact on the national recovery.
Throughout the coronavirus crisis, the Port Authority has kept all of its facilities open and operating to get necessary food, fuel, and medical supplies into the region and to get essential workers safely to their jobs and back home. The Port Authority earns money from the contractually-required payments from its business partners, and from customer user fees that have so dramatically dried up.
“Given the massive decline in traveler volumes, Congress must provide the Port Authority with direct financial assistance to offset its massive losses to ensure critically important projects can move forward,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said. “The capital plan creates 100,000 good local jobs and leverages more than $10 billion in private money. It would drive the economic recovery, and pulling back now is the exact opposite of what the regional and national economy need.”