Former MTA chair calls transit 'most important issue' in NYC's recovery from pandemic, recession

NYC 'might not recover' if restrictions continue for 'two, three, four years,' Peter Kalikow tells FBN

Transit is the most important issue on the agenda,” former New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman Peter Kalikow told Fox Business Network's “Cavuto: Coast-To-Coast” on Tuesday while discussing what America's largest city needs to rebound from restrictions imposed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Host Neil Cavuto asked Kalikow whether he believes New York City will make an economic comeback or if the lockdowns imposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo will cripple the city for good.

In response, Kalikow said “both” opinions are right.

“If you let it go on for two, three, four years you might not recover,” he explained. “But I always remember London, which was the capital of the British Empire for 300 years. When that empire went away, London is still the financial center of Europe now.”

NEARLY HALF OF AMERICANS WHO LOST JOB TO PANDEMIC CAN'T LAST A MONTH ON SAVINGS

“But that doesn’t mean we can’t help ourselves,” Kalikow continued. “We have to help ourselves and transit is the most important issue on the agenda.”

MTA ridership has rebounded slowly over the summer months after dropping 90 percent in March and April when the initial lockdowns were imposed, the New York Post reported, adding that by the end of June, subway ridership was around one million trips per day.

Before the pandemic, daily ridership hovered around 5.5 million on subways and 1.8 million on buses, the newspaper noted.

According to data provided by the MTA, as of Oct. 4, subway ridership was down 66.7% from 2019, with bus ridership decreasing by 55%.

Cavuto noted that “a lot of people are very leery of taking public transit,” not only because of the pandemic but also because of the “uptick in crime in New York.”

NEARLY HALF OF AMERICANS WHO LOST JOB TO PANDEMIC CAN'T LAST A MONTH ON SAVINGS

Data released Friday by the New York City Police Department reveals that violent crime in the city continued to spike through September with the number of shooting incidents increasing by 127% over 2019.

Kalikow acknowledged that he has noticed people in New York City are not using public transportation as frequently.

New York - 6 October 2016: the empty car in the subway in New York City.  (iStock)

“I have a building with a garage,” Kalikow said. “There are 3,000 people in the building, [of] which only 200 come, but the garage is full.”

“It’s because nobody is taking public transit and closing the subways at night has done a great thing for cleaning and sanitizing, but I guess it falls back to the old problem of crime,” he continued. “Crime is what always knocked us out in the 70s in the transit system.”

The MTA announced in late April announced that the subway would shut down between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. each night for “daily deep cleanings” in an effort to rid the public transportation system of the novel coronavirus and better protect essential workers who use the service.

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Cavuto also asked Kalikow what effect President Trump losing the election would have "on the markets, economy, real estate, the whole thing?”

“On a micro point of view, probably not a lot would change," Kalikow began, "but I think on a macro point of view, it’s going to be a problem because the economy will not rebound in the way that it should.

“The rebound that President Trump brought us in the first three years of his administration was unbelievable by any measure and I think if you get a Democratic president like Joe Biden, who I like and he wants to do a good job and he probably will, but it won’t be to the same effect that Trump would give us.”

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Fox News’ Audrey Conklin contributed to this report.