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And you thought we had a spending problem today...

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This, my friends, is why I'm such a strong believer in leveraging what we have before splurging on the new... 

All bolding is mine. 

(Edit: like an idiot, I forgot to link. Here.) 


Officials at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority told a specially convened task force that resurrecting the nation’s largest and most important mass transit system may require a five-year plan costing some $60 billion, according to two knowledgeable sources.

That price tag includes repairs to the subways, as well as to the Metro-North and Long Island railroads, and the authority’s bridges and tunnels. It’s also roughly double the cost of the MTA’s existing, $33 billion five-year repair plan — which also addresses all of the above— and comes as the MTA is facing grave financial headwinds, declining ridership, uncertainty about Albany's ability to meet any significant new funding responsibilities, and concerns about the MTA’s ability to spend money efficiently.

The MTA’s rough $60 billion estimate represents the sum of the first five years of its “Fast Forward” subway repair plan — about $19 billion — along with the anticipated cost of ordinary state-of-good-repair work on the subway and the capital needs for the rest of the system over the same five years, according to the sources, both of whom requested anonymity to characterize the private discussions. The MTA has yet to share its systemwide estimate with its board.


“There are lots of numbers being thrown around, nothing is final,” Weinstein said in a statement. “As we’ve said we need reliable, sustainable, predictable sources of funding.“

The $60 billion number does not represent the findings of the clunkily-named Metropolitan Transportation Sustainability Advisory Workgroup, which the state has tasked with devising solutions to the deterioration of the system by the end of this year. That group will likely come up with an estimate of its own.

Kathryn Wylde, the workgroup's chair, did not comment on the number itself, except to suggest it was premature to put a price tag on the work.

The size of the MTA’s to-do list, she said, will depend “on how much funding is available.”

“The work group is trying to get a clear picture of the choices that the Governor and legislature will face in deciding how much New York can afford to invest in the future of our transit system and how quickly the public wants to have modern, reliable subway, bus and commuter rail service,” Wylde said. “We have seen the cost of underinvesting over the past 20 years, and no one likes the results. So whatever recommendations the work group comes up with, it will not be business as usual.”

Ever since word leaked out in May that the resurrection of the failing subway system would cost roughly $40 billion over 15 years, there’s been concern over the state’s ability to fund even that commitment.

But the system has other needs too. Last year, Long Island Rail Road “had its worst on-time performance” in 18 years, New York State’s comptroller reported recently. Metro-North’s numbers have also fallen.

It’s become increasingly clear that congestion pricing, which advocates have for years pushed as the solution to the MTA’s revenue problems, will not produce enough revenue to fund the agency’s needs.

One of the workgroup’s tasks is to come up with other revenue generation proposals. That the MTA’s estimate for its next five-year capital plan should be so large puts additional pressure on the group to do just that.

And one transit advocated that, from a political standpoint, it makes sense for the MTA to aim high and to ensure there’s something substantial in the plan for railroad commuters, whose representatives in the legislature will have to approve any transit rescue plan.

“At the end of the day, if we’re going to get elected officials to vote in favor of massive increases for the subways, we’re going to need to make sure that we’re also at the same time making improvements on commuter rail too,” said Tri-State Transporation Campaign Executive Director Nick Sifuentes.

In all seriousness, though, this is an embarrassment. If our politicians actually gave a shit, they'd be raising hell in Albany about the amount of money the agency wastes in inefficiency and on unnecessary expenditures. Nothing we do in NYC falls even within the 'worst case scenario' pricing range for other world-class cities -- it's time to change that, or suffer irrelevance. Sixty billion in five years is untenable. 

Edited by RR503
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