Whatever happened to the promised Metropolitan Transportation Authority 2020-2040 Twenty-Year Long-Range Capital Needs Plan? New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the MTA pledged that it would be released by December 2019. It is now 19 months overdue.
The plan documents how much money and years or decades will be required before each MTA operating agency, including New York City Transit bus, subway, Staten Island Railway, 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 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, painting, protective netting on elevated structures and bridges, line equipment including tunnel lighting and pump rooms, traction power, power substations, yards and shops and supervisory vehicles.
It is supposed to be the basis for the justification of New York MTA Five-Year Capital Plans prior to their release. In this case, 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 Gov. Cuomo’s and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s respective promises to conduct the most open and transparent administrations in the history of state and municipal government. This was to include independent authorities such as the MTA. Taxpayers, commuters, transit advocates, elected officials and transit reporters should not have had to wait 19 months before being able to read such an important transportation planning document.
Advocates for various potential transportation system expansion projects will know by omission from this document that the MTA has no intention of advancing their project. This list of hopeful dreamers includes but is not limited to the $400 million Metro North Hudson Line Penn Station Access via Amtrak Empire Corridor, $258 million
Phase Two Woodhaven Blvd. Queens Select Bus Service, $2.2 billion Light Rail between Jamaica and Long Island City on the old Lower Montauk LIRR branch, $8 billion restoration of LIRR service on the old Rockaway Queens branch, $2 billion plus Triboro X Subway Express (new subway line connecting the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn), $2.7 billion-plus Brooklyn-Queens Waterfront Street Car Connector, $5 billion Utica Avenue NYC Transit Brooklyn subway extension, $600 million NYC Transit North Shore, $1.5 billion West Shore Staten Island Bus Rapid Transit, $800 million new NYC Transit No. 7 subway station at 10th Avenue and 41st (deleted from original $2.4 billion Hudson Yard No. 7 subway extension to save $500 million) and $3.5 billion Red Hook Brooklyn subway extension from NYC Transit No. 1 subway line from the Rector Street downtown Manhattan station to Red Hook.
Will outgoing MTA Chairman Pat Foye release this critical report as one of his last actions before resigning his position at the end of July? It was announced weeks ago that Foye has been appointed by Cuomo, his benefactor, to become interim president and CEO of the Empire State Development Corp.
It will be a homecoming of sorts for Foye, as former Gov. Eliot Spitzer previously appointed him to be chairman of the Empire State Development Corp. under his administration. Foye has also served as executive director for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and deputy secretary for economic development under Cuomo.
Besides collecting Social Security and a 401K, how many pensions will he be eligible to collect from these various positions to enjoy his future retirement?
(Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office.