Before the pandemic, Nick Guillermo’s usual commute was primarily trains and buses.

"Normal commutes, stuff like that," he said.

Then, during the pandemic, he says, "I switched it up. I normally started taking Citi Bikes and just cabs more, like solo travel."

What You Need To Know

  • MTA Chief Financial Officer Robert Foran said the MTA should consider service cuts as projections show a 15% decline in ridership from pre-pandemic levels

  • The MTA got $14.5 billion from a federal bailout - money that will run out by 2024

  • The MTA already decided to spare riders from fare hikes this year

“I didn’t wanna be around that many people it’s too crowded," he said. "The city’s already crowded but why make it more crowded when it's a pandemics going on."

And the MTA needs riders like Guillermo - who is taking a Citi Bike home from the Upper West Side to East Harlem from his job as a lab technician - to come back to mass transit.

On Wednesday, the MTA’s chief financial officer warned of service cuts in two years to account for a “new normal” that is, a drop in ridership - even after receiving more than $14 billion from a federal bailout of transit agencies.

"At some point, we need to figure out where is our ridership needing us to take them," Robert Foran, the MTA chief financial officer, said. "What are the levels of service that we need to provide to meet the needs?"

The warnings came with no specifics about subway, bus or commuter rail service.

MTA projects a 15% decrease in ridership from pre-pandemic levels.

Some MTA board members cautioned against service cuts

"Service reduction is not the way to keep riders attract riders back," Andrew Albert, an MTA board member, said.

Riders agree.

"It’ll really get full, because it was full now so it will be crazy," said Natacha Rivera, a commuter from the Upper West Side.

"A lot of people are going to be late for work and that’s not very good especially if you work in the health care field. a lot of nurses take the train," Merna Bain, a nurse, said.

In the meantime, MTA officials are trying to run as much service as possible and encourage people, like Nick Guillermo, to get back on trains and buses.

But for now he’s got Citi Bike and plans to buy his own bicycle.

I'll definitely find a way to integrate that into my normal daily commute," Guillermo said.

That means fewer trips on the MTA.

“That does mean fewer trips on the MTA," he said. "But it means better legs for me so I can’t complain."

Meanwhile, MTA’s finance chief said that without service cuts, a fare hike this year or revenue from new taxes, the MTA faces a three and a half billion dollars of red ink after money from the federal bailout runs out by 2024.