Civic Groups Ramp Up Pressure On City For More MTA Money

One day after the de Blasio Administration announced that the City of New York’s proposed capital budget would include $125 million for the MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Program, leading transportation and civic groups today called on the City of New York to increase the City’s contribution to the $32 billion, five-year capital fix-up program.

Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio

That vital program provides funds for hundreds of new subway cars, buses, and commuter rail cars, modern signals and track and scores of station fix-ups.

Among the groups joining the call for greater City aid were: the New York Building Congress, CIVITAS, the General Contractors Association, the NYC Transit Riders Council, the Regional Plan Association, the Riders Alliance, the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, Transportation Alternatives, Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

“The City & State must invest more in its subways, a one trillion asset which keeps the city economy moving. For a relatively modest increase the mayor should be able to leverage such leadership to get similarly scaled increases from the MTA’s state and federal partners,” said Kevin Corbett, Co-Chair of The Empire State Transportation Alliance.

The cry for the city to anti up more money comes after the city’s Independent Budget Office conducted an analysis of funding by the City of the MTA’s capital program over 30 years. The IBO found that if the City contribution had kept up with the rate of inflation, it “would have reached $363 million in 2014, and provide more than $1.8 billion for the proposed 2015-2019 capital plan.”

Before the city and state turn to the federal government for additional funding for the MTA, they should be making their own contributions to make certain that New Yorkers’ most critical transportation asset is not shortchanged by their own budget policies,” said Denise Richardson, Executive Director of the General Contractors Association of New York.

The MTA’s has proposed a capital plan of $32 billion program for the five years running from 2015 to 2019.  Since 1982, the MTA has spent $75 billion to buy new subway cars and buses; fixed hundreds of stations; and replaced scores of miles of track and signals. MTA officials say funding for the five-year $32 billion program is currently $14 billion short.

The MTA says most of the funds for their capital plan would come from the federal government ($7 billion); be backed by riders ($4 billion in MTA) and generated by real-estate activities ($1.5 billion). But that leaves the city’s transit system with a funding gap of $14 billion that remains to be filled to meet all of the needs identified in the proposed MTA 2015-2019 Capital Program.

“A multi-billion dollar shortfall would severely compromise the agency’s ability to bring the system to a state of good repair, address the backlog of assets past due for replacement, and grow to address the needs of its customers and the region,” said John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance.

“The City is getting a deal reminiscent of the nickel fare, spending a miniscule amount to keep its most valuable asset in shape,” said Gene Russianoff, Senior Attorney for the Straphangers Campaign.  “All three levels of government—the City, the State and the federal government—should be doing more to keep city transit safe, decent and reliable for eight million daily riders.”


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