The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently approved its own 30-year, $400 billion capital needs plan. What ever happened to our own promised New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority 2020-2040 20-year capital plan? Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the MTA pledged last year that it would be released by December 2019. Why is it now ten months overdue? Both LA MTA and NY MTA have had to deal with COVID-19 and local financial crises.
The plan documents how much money and years or decades will be required before each MTA operating agency, including NYC Transit subway and bus, Staten Island Railway, Manhattan Bronx Surface Operating bus, MTA bus, Long Island Rail Road and Metro North Rail Road have reached a state of good repair. Categories for each agency include such assets as the existing bus, subway and commuter rail fleet, stations including elevators to meet Americans with Disabilities Act and escalators, track including switches, signals and interlockings, communications, line structures including painting, protective netting on elevated structures and bridges, line equipment including tunnel lighting and pump rooms, traction power including power substations, yards and shops and supervisory vehicles.
It is supposed to be the basis for the justification of NY MTA Five Year Capital Plans prior to their release. The $51 billion 2020 – 2024 Five-Year Capital Plan was released and adopted before anyone could receive and review the updated Twenty-Year Capital Needs Plan. The new 2020 – 2040 Twenty-Year Plan should update the previous 2014 – 2034 Twenty-Year Plan. This is inconsistent with both Cuomo’s and Mayor Bill deBlasio’s respective promises to conduct the most open and transparent administrations in the history of state and municipal government. This was supposed to have included independent authorities such as the MTA. Taxpayers, commuters, transit advocates, transportation reporters and elected officials deserve to know today when this critical document will finally be released. Will someone hold the MTA’s feet to the fire and raise this issue at the next MTA monthly board meeting?
(Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office. This included the review, approval and oversight for billions of dollars in grants to the MTA which funded LIRR, Metro North, NYC Transit, MTA Bus capital projects and programs along with 30 other transit operators in NY & NJ)