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The MTA Capital Program and the City of New York: The City of New York Has a Great Opportunity with the MTA Capital Program…And timing is everything!!

In its One New York plan, the de Blasio administration recognizes the centrality of an effective transit system to the future growth of the City and the achievement of the Plan’s goals. The City has supported fully funding the MTA’s Capital Program and establishing a stable funding structure for capital needs  and recognizes that fully funding the MTA’s Capital Program is critical to meeting One New York’s goals. But almost a year after MTA Board approval of a proposed Capital Program, funding has yet to be finalized.

What has happened in the last year:

  • In October 2014 the MTA Capital Program Review Board (CPRB) rejected the MTA Capital Program.
  • Progress on existing projects make it necessary for the MTA to have an approved Capital Program in place by November 2015 to avoid disruptive and costly delays to projects such as the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access.
  • The MTA will reduce the cost of the Capital Program by identifying $2.2 billion in efficiencies and has identified $2.4 billion in additional internal Capital Program funding.
  • The Governor has committed the State to contribute $8.3 billion.

What must be done in the Month of September:

  • The City should identify MTA projects that support its initiatives to keep the City affordable:
    • Establishing a Freedom Ticket that allows City riders to access unused commuter rail capacity in areas underserved by subways and buses.
    • Improving NYC commuter rail stations, such as the rehabilitation of the Nostrand Avenue LIRR station that is in the current Capital Program proposal and renovations of the East New York and Locust Manor LIRR stations to increase mobility and development objectives.
    • Extending the Second Avenue Subway to Harlem to reduce East Side subway overcrowding and accommodate new development.
    • Advancing Communication Based Train Control (CBTC), a modern signal system that can increase the capacity and reliability of the system while providing better information to riders and planners.
    • Becoming actively engaged in the capital needs assessment and project planning process to improve, streamline and increase the effectiveness and quality of these projects.
  • The City must inform the MTA how much it will contribute to the Capital Program.The MTA has most recently requested that the City fund $3.2 billion of the $28 billion program.  While the MTA’s new ask is sizable, the City’s reliance on the MTA system to meet social and economic goals is even greater.
  • The Bloomberg Administration’s 7 subway line extension to the Far West Side: Slated to be dedicated on September 13. The City funded this $2 billion addition to the system.  This effort appears to be working, as the City anticipates $30 billion in real estate investments near the station over the next 30 years, in addition to the new tax revenues.
  • The de Blasio Administration’s One City Plan: The MTA system is essential to maintain New York City as a place where a broad range of individuals can live.  Without efficient and reasonably priced public transportation, the City will not be affordable for those in the middle income ranges. The transit system compensates for the high cost of housing near major employment centers by providing affordable ready access to these parts of the City from outlying areas.

Timing is Everything…

The MTA needs commitments in hand to craft a funding plan by mid-September, at the time of the dedication of the 7 line extension on September 13! 

  • This dedication would be an excellent opportunity for the City to publically commit its share of Capital Program funding.
  • The revised Capital Program proposal can then be prepared and presented for approval by the MTA Board at its October 27 meeting, and then submitted to the CPRB.
  • The CPRB must then take action within 30 days of the MTA’s submittal.  If no action is taken, the proposal is “deemed to be approved.”

Three months can seem like a long time, but in this case there’s a lot that has to fall into place and there is not much time for everything to come together.