U.S. public transit systems seek up to $36 billion in new bailout

WASHINGTON, July 14 (Reuters) - Major U.S. public transit systems, still suffering from a massive coronavirus-induced drop in ridership, asked congressional leaders on Tuesday for up to $36 billion to keep municipal buses and trains running.

The transit systems are seeking $32 billion to $36 billion in the next round of emergency coronavirus funding, on top of a $25 billion bailout approved by Congress in March.

Urban transit systems have been devastated by millions of workers staying at home rather than commuting and a sharp decline in tourism.

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) needs another $3.9 billion to get through 2020 on top of the $3.8 billion it received in April, said Patrick Foye, chairman and chief executive officer of the MTA.

“Without action by the Senate we don’t have a path forward without cuts that will devastate our system,” Foye said.

Top U.S. transit systems echoed that sentiment collectively in a letter to Senate leaders Tuesday. “Without additional federal assistance, many of our agencies will be forced to make difficult decisions,” the letter said.

A variety of transportation sectors seek additional funding.

Private U.S. bus companies are seeking $15 billion in grants and loans. Nearly 600 million passenger trips are taken annually on buses and an industry group estimated companies may lose nearly $8 billion through August.

In May, passenger railroad Amtrak said it needs a further $1.475 billion bailout after receiving $1 billion in emergency funding from Congress.

U.S. airports said in May they need at least another $10 billion in government assistance on top of an earlier $10 billion in assistance.

U.S. airline unions sought another $32 billion bailout to cover payroll costs through March but major airlines have not endorsed the effort. Congress approved up to $50 billion in grants and loans for passenger airlines in March. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Tom Brown)