To the editor:
Metropolitan Transportation Authority chair Pat Foye said in a recent interview, “Extending our line of credit is not a long-term solution, and gutting our hard-fought capital plan is a non-starter. We will now allow this pandemic to slow our efforts to bring our system into the 21st century. This is a national problem that requires a national solution.”
Here are the three most obvious projects the MTA should consider deleting from its current $51 billion five-year capital plan. This would not be, in the words of Foye, “gutting our hard-fought capital plan.”
The MTA has budgeted $4 billion in local funding within the earlier $32 billion five-year capital plan, and the $51 billion current one to be used toward the second phase of the $6.9 billion Second Avenue subway.
This project benefits a handful of the 5 million daily transit riders.
There also is $1.5 billion for the east Bronx Metro-North access to Penn Station. Suspension of the 1 percent Arts in Transit expenditure requirement for capital projects could free up millions. Implementing these suggestions plus ending the wasting of millions on transportation feasibility studies for future system expansion projects that will never happen in our lifetime preserves the core MTA capital program.
Do not initiate any new system expansion projects until each operating agency, bus, subway, Staten Island Railway, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North systems have reached a state of good repair for existing fleet, stations, signals, interlockings, track, power, yard and shops makes more sense. Ensure that maintenance programs for all operating agencies’ assets are fully funded and completed on time to ensure riders reliable service.
The MTA must make the difficult financial decisions everyone else does. Given the current financial crises faced by all levels of government, the MTA should postpone funding these projects until the next five-year capital plan that starts in 2025.
It will not, in the words of MTA chair Foye, “gut our hard-fought capital plan.”
Claiming that failure to provide $4 billion in new federal funding to deal with the coronavirus would be the equivalent of Washington telling the MTA to “drop dead” is inappropriate rhetoric during this ongoing crisis.