Washington, DC CNN  — 

New York City bus driver Cynthia Wells has battled Covid-19, missing weeks of work this spring. She’s watched colleagues die from the virus. Today, she still feels unsafe, shielded from the passengers by a thin plastic sheet resembling a shower curtain. And the virus isn’t her only concern.

Transit workers like Wells, who have risked their lives during the pandemic, find themselves wondering if they’ll even have jobs soon. Some have already lost their positions. And massive budget shortfalls may force transportation agencies to make drastic cuts.

Transit’s woes are typical of the struggling US economy, which gained a lower-than-expected 1.4 million jobs in August and has an unemployment rate of 8.4%, according to data the US Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday.

“I”m not hearing that help is coming,” Wells said in an interview with CNN Business. “There’s so much unknown. I think that creates even more fear.”

She said she’s never seen employees worry so much about their futures in her 30 years as a driver. And Wells said she doesn’t have anything reassuring to tell colleagues when they come to her with concerns.

Transit agencies’ finances have been decimated by reduced ridership, declining sales tax revenue, and fewer fares collected as well as the expense of increase cleaning protocols. Many riders are staying home or choosing transportation options, like cars or bikes, where it’s easier to distance themselves from others.

Some transit systems have had to shift funds from new projects in order to pay for existing services. A third of transit agencies have already furloughed, or planned to furlough workers, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

The industry received $25 billion in March as part of the CARES Act, but leaders said additional funding is needed. The American Public Transportation Association has called on Congress to provide $32 billion to transit agencies as part of the latest pandemic relief package.

Earlier this week, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called on Congress to save public transit.

“Across the country, people rely on public transportation to get to work, see loved ones, and access essential services,” Biden tweeted.

Negotiations are ongoing on Capitol Hill, but with or without the federal relief, transit agencies are struggling to chart a path forward.

John Samuelson, the president of the transit union TWU International, says transit workers deserve better.

“It’s the ultimate act of betrayal by every level of government,” Samuelson said. “Workers across the country have put their necks on they line and showed up in the midst of the pandemic. They’ve paid the price with an extreme loss of life.”

John Costa, International President of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said that 87 of his members have died since the pandemic begun. Costa said that 18,061 of his members have been laid off already, and he fears more layoffs are coming, as labor contracts are negotiated later this year.

“We tried to keep the economy going and save lives by telling members it’s the right thing to keep buses going, and transport hospital workers and front-line workers,” Costa said. “We were out there risking our lives every day to move these buses, and we get laid off?”

“It’s looking grim, and that’s probably an understatement,” said Leanne Redden, executive director of the RTA, which oversees Chicago’s transit agencies, of trying to assemble a budget for 2021.

The agency’s models for forecasting revenues have been turned upside down, she said, adding that she has no expectation of when ridership will return to normal. She predicts a budget shortfall of up to $900 million next year.

And Redden can’t rule out layoffs next year: “Everything is on the table at this point.”