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MTA Capital Program Committee Meeting Testimony- need for improved transparency

Good afternoon, I am Bradley Brashears Planning Manager at the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC). I am here today to speak about the need for improved transparency and the need for more complete information to be included on the MTA’s Capital Program Dashboard.

PCAC has been undertaking a review of the dashboard and found several areas in need of improvement. Some, but not all of the items we found lacking details include: project milestones; reasons for project eliminations; dates; substantial changes in project budgets with no explanations; projects marked as complete but just 65-72 percent complete; project funding sources; accessibility project breakdowns; and some projects simply have no information at all. This information and so much more is needed by the public and various stakeholders to help make informed decisions on actions to take – especially when it comes to advocating for capital program funding.

We applaud the MTA for projects that have been completed on-time and under budget – and it would be great to know exactly how these successes were completed and where the funds saved will go. How are we to know? It would be great to include items such as this on the dashboard as well.

Last year, the New York State legislature passed the MTA Open Data Act, thanks to Senator Leroy Comrie, Assembly Member Robert Carroll, and with the support of many advocacy organizations. The legislation, requires the MTA to release data regarding its budget, finances, ridership, routes, and service in open data formats, including capital program data as it relates to budget and finances. We understand the MTA is advancing its efforts and hope you will also use this opportunity to display such data on the capital program dashboard – hopefully sooner than later.

We look forward to seeing congestion pricing funds go to 2020-24 capital program and want to thank Senator Comrie for his continued fight to limit congestion pricing exemptions. More exemptions will only defeat the purposes of congestion pricing – providing much-needed funds for the MTA while reducing congestion and CO2 emissions.  Shortchanging the MTA on these funds will only hurt our region as we aim to build back better after a rough couple of years.

Thank you.