Remarks before the MTA Board, October 28, 2015
William Henderson, Executive Director, PCAC
We congratulate and express our appreciation to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, Chairman Prendergast, and all of the MTA staff and Board members who worked so hard to find a solution to funding the capital investment needs of our bus, commuter rail, and subway systems. A resolution was needed for the health of our City, region, and State and we applaud all of you for a solution that combined substantial State resources with a restoration of the City’s leading role in funding transit infrastructure and the MTA’s commitment to contracting, procurement, and other efficiencies.
Even with a funding agreement, the MTA system’s immense needs make us look to future Capital Programs and acknowledge that greater quantities of resources must be invested in the system. Meeting these needs is a tall order, but the benefits that Capital Program spending returns to our region and State make this a wise and necessary investment. We have been making this case for the past two years through our partnership with the Urban Land Institute, our contacts with business and civic leaders, and our release of Keeping NY on Track, an interactive report demonstrating the value of investing in vital transportation infrastructure.
Through this project, we sought the perspective of business and community leaders and soon found that, almost to a person, they are convinced of the critical importance of public transportation to our region and the necessity of providing resources for its maintenance and expansion, even if they will provide much of these resources. What these individuals were lacking was a nuanced understanding of the issues surrounding public transportation in the region and the assurance that their needs are being reflected in the planning process.
Funding the last two Capital Programs has been a painful process that has not benefitted the MTA or the riders. We believe that the difficulties are in part a symptom of a lack of connection between the Capital Program process and its stakeholders and agree with the Reinvention Commission that there must be ongoing partnerships and not just an effort around the launch of a Capital Program proposal. We need a continuous and transparent process of two way communication among the MTA, elected officials, and other stakeholders on the needs of the MTA system and how we should pay for it. The MTA must communicate its priorities and progress, but must also engage the private sector and larger community in an ongoing dialogue about regional trends and needs and how investing in the MTA system can act to address them. We believe that this is necessary to avoid history repeating itself for the 2020-2024 Capital Program