With the COVID-19 pandemic decimating New Jersey Transit’s ridership by nearly 100 percent and burning through revenue, the statewide agency said Thursday that it only has enough cash on hand to fund its operations through mid-June.
The agency saw a 96 percent drop in rail ridership in March, and daily ticket sales plummeted from just over $1 million down to $41,000, NJ Transit said at a Thursday committee meeting.
Millions of state residents have stayed at home following several orders from Gov. Phil Murphy banning nonessential travel and closing most retail outlets in a bid to halt the spread of COVID-19 across the state.
Earlier in April, the federal government granted NJ Transit a $1.43 billion rescue package under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security – or CARES – Act, but it has yet to receive the money, according to the agency.
But, NJ Transit has been burning through between $8.5 million and $10 million a day, so talks are underway with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for more rescue funding, the agency said at a Thursday committee meeting.
Many residents throughout the state have been made to work from home, meaning fewer people using NJ Transit.
Ridership on the agency’s buses plummeted by 91 percent, and weekly ticket sales dropped from $500,000 to $41,000.
While the measures have been effective in curbing the rate of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths, those responses have wielded devastating effects on the state economy.
Nearly 930,000 New Jerseyans filed for unemployment since the pandemic hit weeks ago when Murphy signed the stay-at-home order on March 16.
The sudden halt in commerce has also destroyed the types of tax revenue the state relies on – the sales, gas, income, corporate business, casino and lottery sales taxes.
And businesses, lacking any source of income, have been jostling for federal aid under a sprawling and complex small business assistance program.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story indicated that NJ Transit already received and was using the $1.43 billion of funding granted to it under the CARES Act, however the agency has yet to receive the money. The post was updated at 10:11 a.m. EST on May 1, 2020.