Never shy around a camera or microphone, New York City Comptroller and 2021 mayoral wanna be Scott Stringer will continue issuing a series of useless audits and reports including those critical of the MTA and various municipal agencies.
His most recent deals with Bombardier’s $600 million dollar contract with MTA NYC Transit for 300 new subway cars, which is several years late. He conveniently forgot to tell you in exchange for Bombardier’s delays in delivery, NYC Transit will obtain 18 additional subway cars at no cost.
Stringer travels around town by car with driver and police security detail. Unlike the millions of New Yorkers, he doesn’t own a Metro Card and ride the subway on a daily basis.
Do as I say, not as I do is his motto. With term limits, Stringer is just another term-limited career politician using the NYC comptroller’s office perks current position while seeking yet another public office.
As a former state Assemblymember, Manhattan Borough president and currently NYC Comptroller – he has never worked an honest day in his life.
If Stringer was serious about this issue, why didn’t he years ago ask either Mayor Bill de Blasio or Gov. Andrew Cuomo to appoint him to serve on the MTA Board.
A significant percentage of NYC Transit subway car and bus procurements along with many other capital projects and programs, are funded for the most part by Federal Transit Administration grants. These federal funds go to NYC Transit, Long Island and Metro North Rail Road along with MTA Bus.
They will total $7 billion between now and when the $32 billion 2015-2019 MTA Capital Program Plan is completed.
These are subject to federal procurement rules and regulations including Buy America requirements. Over $7 billion has been requested as part of the $51 billion 2020 – 2024 MTA Capital Program Plan to replace almost 2,000 more subway cars.
There are only four rail car manufacturers including Alstom,Bombardier, Kawasaki and Siemans to supply transit agencies around the nation. As a result, there is limited competition between a handful of potential suppliers.
The MTA, NYC Transit, LIRR & Metro North are competing against each other and transit agencies, who operate subway and or heavy commuter rail around the nation for time and space on the handful of manufacturer’s production line.
As a result, over past MTA Five Year Capital Programs, NYC Transit has averaged five years for subway cars and three for buses. This process begins with the development of bid specifications, advertising and award.
Next is vendor mobilization, pre-production, assembly, testing, delivery and acceptance from the first to the last subway, commuter rail car or bus.
Purchasing a thousand or more subway cars is not like us going to a local car dealer. Automobile manufacturers have a series of basic models with a variety of optional add ons produced year in large quantities.
Subway and commuter car manufacturers do not have a ready supply of off the shelf stock on hand, ready to drive off the lot. Each transit agency has different bid specifications to meet their respective physical systems, maintenance and operational needs.
The winning bidder needs time to develop a prototype car followed by delivery of one 10-car train set. The NYC Transit needs time to run these vehicles in revenue service. This is to ensure they can survive the challenges of operating in the nation’s largest subway system.
They have met bid specifications. NYC Transit operations and maintenance groups need time to make sure they have the resources to manage both this new and existing fleet. Only then, after completion of NYC Transit internal review and sign off by various departments can the manufacturer begin full production.
If you are lucky and there are no hiccups during production, this might average ten cars or one train set per week. Each car has to be inspected and accepted at the production plant and again after delivery which takes time.
Stringer should visit any subway car production plant and see for himself before complaining.
Stringer should also meet with the hard-working MTA and NYC Transit procurement, operational and maintenance staff assigned to manage subway car procurements. This would help him develop a better understanding of the process from start to finish.
(Larry Penner is a transportation historian, advocate and writer who previously worked 31 years for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office.