The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said its revenue cratered $777 million over the past six months, as the COVID-19 pandemic decimated air, tunnel and rail travel by near triple-digit percentages.
All told, the bi-state agency’s Thursday numbers amount to its single worst quarter on record since it was founded in 1921. On average, the agency said it shed $240 million per month.
Transportation officials contend that the agency could see itself in a $3 billion hole through March 2022, and are pushing Congress to enact a federal COVID-relief package that would include that amount of money to help them weather the storm.
They are also considering borrowing under a Federal Reserve program to shore up finances.
“The agency’s second-quarter financial performance is the worst downturn in the Port Authority’s recent history, perhaps its entire history, but certainly since World War II,” PANYNJ Executive Director Rick Cotton said.
The agency oversees Newark Liberty International Airport and several others in New York City. It manages the George Washington Bridge, the Lincoln Tunnel and Holland Tunnel, and a sprawling bus network.
The latest projections from the Port Authority show that air travel collapsed 98 percent compared to the second quarter of 2019, while PATH commuter rail ridership dropped 94 percent.
Meanwhile, auto traffic at bridges and tunnels fell 64 percent, and truck traffic by 36 percent.
“This region has been hit hard by the pandemic, and the Port Authority is not immune,” Kevin O’Toole, a former Republican state senator and the agency’s board chair, said on Thursday.
Port Authority officials have warned that they would have to pull the plug on a myriad of long-term projects, or at least scale them back, should they not get federal relief or some other bailout in the near future.
Those projects include the new Terminal One at Newark airport, a new AirTrain to replace Newark Airport’s aging monorail, upgrades and restoration on the George Washington Bridge, the implementation of cashless tolling at the Hudson River crossings, and replacement of the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan.
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