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PCAC Testimony – November 14, 2019 – 2020 Financial Plan

Good morning, I am Lisa Daglian, Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, PCAC. On behalf of our three Councils and the nearly nine million daily riders we represent, welcome Anthony McCord! We look forward to working with you.

A key focal point of transformation is guiding the MTA to new ways of doing business. Those efforts will be particularly critical given the authority’s gloomy fiscal future, which we’ll hear more about today, and about which we got a preview at Tuesday’s joint legislative hearing on the Capital Plan. A quick note – there was a date conflict because the electeds did not know that Committee meetings would be held a week earlier than usual. That can be remedied by posting the entire year’s schedule on the website, understanding it’s subject to change.

We were pleased to learn that there are no planned budget-related service cuts as part of the 2020 Financial Plan. That’s great news for riders. With increased ridership and On Time Performance, and with the approach of Congestion Pricing, now is exactly the wrong time to cut service.

We were surprised to learn that there has not yet been an analysis of how the capital plan will affect the operating budget. We’re concerned that the good news will be short-lived without understanding the costs of operating expanded service that will result from the agency’s most ambitious capital plan ever. Clearly, it’s more important than ever to find new dedicated operating revenue streams. It’s a critical issue and we are committed to looking at all options and working with you, and our elected officials, to try and find solutions.

While operating funds and the agency’s finances were recurring themes at Tuesday’s hearing, the capital plan was the raison d’ê·tre. The debarment rules were raised numerous times, with questions about their effect on competition and costs. A similar conversation happened here. The lawmakers were not happy that the emergency rules go much further than their legislation and called on the Board to review and revise them in advance of their December expiration. We join that call. At a time when you’re looking to reduce costs and increase competition, they send the wrong message as written. There’s too much good in the Capital Plan to risk it with poorly designed rules.
Thank you.

Full testimony: 11.14.19 2020 Financial Plan