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Union Tpke

Governor Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio Announce 10-Point Plan to Transform and Fund the MTA

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Byford, if in his current role, would not control Fast Forward. I hope he is not cut out. I don't like how fare evasion is portrayed as an issue on the same level as congestion pricing.

 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced a proposal to transform the MTA and create dedicated and sustained funding streams for the agency. The proposal includes the joint endorsement of congestion pricing and a plan to reorganize the MTA.

1. MTA will develop a reorganization plan to make the agency more efficient and effective. The antiquated structure will be fundamentally changed to centralize common functions among the 6 existing entities. Currently - NYCTA, LIRR, Metro-North, MTA Capital Construction, MTA Bus, SI Railway - operate as 6 separate entities.  This 1968-designed "holding company" structure makes coordination more difficult and expensive. All common functions such as construction management, legal, engineering, procurement, human resources, advertising etc. will be consolidated and streamlined in a central operation. The individual divisions will focus on day-to-day management of their primary operation. The restructuring plan will be completed by June of this year. The restructuring plan must be coupled with a change in culture, which will generate fresh ideas and new perspective from new and recently appointed senior and mid-level management recruited from the private sector and other cities and states.

2. The MTA Transformation Plan would include a congestion pricing financing model.  Electronic tolling devices would be installed on the perimeter of the Central Business District (CBD) defined as streets south of 61st St. in Manhattan.  The FDR Drive will not be included in the Central Business District.  The electronic tolling system will account for tolls previously paid by drivers entering Manhattan from designated crossings. The system will be installed and operated pursuant to an MOU between the City of New York and the MTA for the purposes of ensuring the timely completion of the installation of congestion infrastructure in order to effectuate a congestion pricing plan, and recognizing the expertise of the TBTA for purposes of running and operating cashless tolling systems and City agencies for purposes of the use and impact of infrastructure installation on City streets.  Tolls would be variable providing discounts for off-peak hour travel.   Emergency vehicles will be exempt from congestion pricing tolls. Other exemptions or discounts will be provided to a limited group of vehicles entering the CBD including vehicles operated by or transporting people with disabilities and individuals who have an identifiable hardship or limited ability to access medical facilities in the CBD. Congestion pricing tolls would be supplemented with State and City revenue from a fixed amount of the new internet sales tax derived from sales in New York City, with a growth factor, and a percentage of the State and City revenue from the cannabis excise tax.  Congestion pricing revenue and these two taxes will be placed in a 'lockbox' to provide a funding source necessary to ensure the capital needs of the MTA can be met, with priority given to the subway system, new signaling, new subway cars, track and car repair, accessibility, buses and bus system improvements and further investments in expanding transit availability to areas in the outer boroughs that have limited mass transit options.  Tolls will be set once the electronic infrastructure is in place and a Capital Plan is finalized but will in no event be set later than December 2020.

3. The MTA fares for public mass transportation must be controlled in future years through cost containment actions and improved management. The MTA should be able to operate with mass transit fare increases limited to inflationary increases of 2% per year.

4. All MTA Board appointments will be modified so that all terms end with the appointing elected official's tenure.

5. Partnership between the State and City is necessary to combat fare evasion.  We cannot have a voluntary fare system and still maintain a system that ensures operational stability.  The State will work with the MTA, City and District Attorneys to develop an enforcement strategy, with both personnel and station design modifications that do not criminalize fare evasion but instead prevent fare evasion, sanction violators and increase enforcement.

6. The MTA will undergo an independent audit to determine their actual assets and liabilities.  The initial audit should be completed no later than January of 2020. The forecasts, projections and capital plans they have put forth strain financial credibility.

7. The Capital Plan shall be reviewed by a committee of transportation, engineering and government experts who have no existing financial relationship with the MTA (The Regional Transit Committee, "RTC").  The Committee will have appointees by the Governor, Mayor, State Assembly and Senate, and organizations representing subway riders and driving commuters.  The RTC will also review the toll and fare increases proposed by the MTA as necessary to fund the Capital Plan.

8. The MTA will have all major construction projects and planned projects pursued as "design build."  The MTA will do preliminary drawings only to the point necessary for bidding the project in a private sector competition based primarily on cost and timing of the project.  Selections will be made with incentives and sanctions for performance.  All major construction projects will be reviewed by construction and engineering experts who are not affiliated with the MTA or its consultants.  The construction review team will be headed by the Deans of Cornell School of Engineering and Columbia School of Engineering to assure state of the art design and technology is being deployed.  This group will also review the plans for signal system upgrade methodology and decide the best system to use, specifically comparing Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) to Ultra-Wide-Band (UWB) technology for safety, timeliness and cost.  The MTA will be more aggressive in debarring failed contractors.

9. The MTA will immediately expedite the completion of the Subway Action Plan including: signal repair; water management; station enhancements; rail welding; friction pad installation; increased refurbishment efforts; and other service improvements.

10. The Governor and Mayor will work closely with the Legislature to effectuate provisions in this framework.

Edited by Union Tpke
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30 minutes ago, Union Tpke said:

Byford, if in his current role, would not control Fast Forward. I hope he is not cut out. I don't like how fare evasion is portrayed as an issue on the same level as congestion pricing.

 

Actually, the fare evasion point seems less panic-mode than the MTA had been painting it as. For example, redesigning fare control areas to be less conducive to evasion, and taking a measured approach to enforcement (not criminalizing it, but rather curbing it from the get-go) seems to be a step in the right direction. Sure, fare evasion isn't some insane epidemic, but this is a lot more level-headed than "all the money is being lost to evasion."

As to much of the plan itself, I'm cautiously optimistic. I very much like the sound of independent reviews all over the place; congestion pricing being a lockbox for the TA sounds great, and I think we can all agree that a commitment to institutional reform and an agency restructuring happening within an actual, here-and-now timeline is extremely welcome –remember Byford saying reform is key to fixing the system. 

Also, I think limiting board appointments is a great idea. That one's a pretty easy thing to look at. 

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47 minutes ago, Enjineer said:

Actually, the fare evasion point seems less panic-mode than the MTA had been painting it as. For example, redesigning fare control areas to be less conducive to evasion, and taking a measured approach to enforcement (not criminalizing it, but rather curbing it from the get-go) seems to be a step in the right direction. Sure, fare evasion isn't some insane epidemic, but this is a lot more level-headed than "all the money is being lost to evasion."

As to much of the plan itself, I'm cautiously optimistic. I very much like the sound of independent reviews all over the place; congestion pricing being a lockbox for the TA sounds great, and I think we can all agree that a commitment to institutional reform and an agency restructuring happening within an actual, here-and-now timeline is extremely welcome –remember Byford saying reform is key to fixing the system. 

Also, I think limiting board appointments is a great idea. That one's a pretty easy thing to look at. 

One of the reasons why fare evasion is more of a problem now is because of the way how they designed the new fare areas on the ESI stations.

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There are times I want to ragequit NYC. This is one of them. 

5 hours ago, Union Tpke said:

1. MTA will develop a reorganization plan to make the agency more efficient and effective. The antiquated structure will be fundamentally changed to centralize common functions among the 6 existing entities. Currently - NYCTA, LIRR, Metro-North, MTA Capital Construction, MTA Bus, SI Railway - operate as 6 separate entities.  This 1968-designed "holding company" structure makes coordination more difficult and expensive. All common functions such as construction management, legal, engineering, procurement, human resources, advertising etc. will be consolidated and streamlined in a central operation. The individual divisions will focus on day-to-day management of their primary operation. The restructuring plan will be completed by June of this year. The restructuring plan must be coupled with a change in culture, which will generate fresh ideas and new perspective from new and recently appointed senior and mid-level management recruited from the private sector and other cities and states.

Centralization is great...if it's centralization, and if it's done well. MTA has a history with poorly executed centralization plans (Rail Control Center, MTA Capital Construction) and Cuomo has a history with masking power grabs with reform (think the split of the chairmans' position). While I think that a well executed functional union of these departments would be great, I worry that it will a) not be well executed, and b) will be a managerial union more than a functional one, meaning the agency presidents lose control of key agency functions. This is especially relevant given Fast Forward -- if Byford loses control of it, I don't know where we are as a city...

Equally disturbing to me is this idea that we're gonna make this better by recruiting people from outside the agency. New blood is needed, sure, but there are a LOT of really smart, competent, creative folks within the agency who already have a close understanding of system problems that need to be given more voice and power. Easy to apply broad brush "all MTA mgmt is bad; start again" thinking to this, but the reality is more nuanced and any reform program should address that. I worry that 'culture change' is going to amount to more political shills, and appointments of the type we saw during the fiberglass-and-glue redux of the Canarsie plan. 

5 hours ago, Union Tpke said:

 2. The MTA Transformation Plan would include a congestion pricing financing model.  Electronic tolling devices would be installed on the perimeter of the Central Business District (CBD) defined as streets south of 61st St. in Manhattan.  The FDR Drive will not be included in the Central Business District.  The electronic tolling system will account for tolls previously paid by drivers entering Manhattan from designated crossings. The system will be installed and operated pursuant to an MOU between the City of New York and the MTA for the purposes of ensuring the timely completion of the installation of congestion infrastructure in order to effectuate a congestion pricing plan, and recognizing the expertise of the TBTA for purposes of running and operating cashless tolling systems and City agencies for purposes of the use and impact of infrastructure installation on City streets.  Tolls would be variable providing discounts for off-peak hour travel.   Emergency vehicles will be exempt from congestion pricing tolls. Other exemptions or discounts will be provided to a limited group of vehicles entering the CBD including vehicles operated by or transporting people with disabilities and individuals who have an identifiable hardship or limited ability to access medical facilities in the CBD. Congestion pricing tolls would be supplemented with State and City revenue from a fixed amount of the new internet sales tax derived from sales in New York City, with a growth factor, and a percentage of the State and City revenue from the cannabis excise tax.  Congestion pricing revenue and these two taxes will be placed in a 'lockbox' to provide a funding source necessary to ensure the capital needs of the MTA can be met, with priority given to the subway system, new signaling, new subway cars, track and car repair, accessibility, buses and bus system improvements and further investments in expanding transit availability to areas in the outer boroughs that have limited mass transit options.  Tolls will be set once the electronic infrastructure is in place and a Capital Plan is finalized but will in no event be set later than December 2020.

"Identifiable hardship" sounds like a fancy way of saying that they're gonna let patronage/focus group politics go wild here. Medical exemptions for non-emergency, non-ADA vehicles seem to exist independent of the reality that most people take transit to doctors appts (though I guess I can understand an exemption in some more extreme cases...?) 

As for the other proposals, am I the only one who believes that revenues from a marijuana tax should be reinvested in communities who have been hit hardest by asymmetrical enforcement of such laws? 

5 hours ago, Union Tpke said:

 3. The MTA fares for public mass transportation must be controlled in future years through cost containment actions and improved management. The MTA should be able to operate with mass transit fare increases limited to inflationary increases of 2% per year.

This is basically already the case.

5 hours ago, Union Tpke said:

 4. All MTA Board appointments will be modified so that all terms end with the appointing elected official's tenure.

Ripping the mask of the political control, I guess?

5 hours ago, Union Tpke said:

 5. Partnership between the State and City is necessary to combat fare evasion.  We cannot have a voluntary fare system and still maintain a system that ensures operational stability.  The State will work with the MTA, City and District Attorneys to develop an enforcement strategy, with both personnel and station design modifications that do not criminalize fare evasion but instead prevent fare evasion, sanction violators and increase enforcement.

Good to see that they understand that the issue has more to do with design and enforcement levels, not punishment type, I guess? All the same, a waste of a bullet point. I'd love to have seen something else (more on that later). 

5 hours ago, Union Tpke said:

 7. The Capital Plan shall be reviewed by a committee of transportation, engineering and government experts who have no existing financial relationship with the MTA (The Regional Transit Committee, "RTC").  The Committee will have appointees by the Governor, Mayor, State Assembly and Senate, and organizations representing subway riders and driving commuters.  The RTC will also review the toll and fare increases proposed by the MTA as necessary to fund the Capital Plan.

This is literally the MTA board. 

5 hours ago, Union Tpke said:

 8. The MTA will have all major construction projects and planned projects pursued as "design build."  The MTA will do preliminary drawings only to the point necessary for bidding the project in a private sector competition based primarily on cost and timing of the project.  Selections will be made with incentives and sanctions for performance.  All major construction projects will be reviewed by construction and engineering experts who are not affiliated with the MTA or its consultants.  The construction review team will be headed by the Deans of Cornell School of Engineering and Columbia School of Engineering to assure state of the art design and technology is being deployed.  This group will also review the plans for signal system upgrade methodology and decide the best system to use, specifically comparing Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) to Ultra-Wide-Band (UWB) technology for safety, timeliness and cost.  The MTA will be more aggressive in debarring failed contractors.

Good lord. 

It has been demonstrated time and again that design-build isn't the solution, it's good management of two inherently independence functions

This focus on 'innovation' is dangerous, too. UWB may be a workable technology -- but we don't know that it is, and unless you're willing to let me replace your circulatory system with that of a penguin because hey, it might be more efficient, you should be worried about this. Ad libbing signal system design was one reason we got in this mess; let's not take that mentality to the next level to fulfill some moonshot idea that gets the system out of the hard work of incremental improvement. 

I honestly don't know what to say bout the Columbia/Cornell deans coming back. State of the art is great if state of the art has been proved functional. The last time the deans showed up, we got 'innovative' tunnel repair, and this time, it looks as if we're getting UWB rubber stamped. There are absolutely parts of capital construction that could use an update, but they fall on the boring end of the spectrum, and are generally best addressed by people with, you know, experience with the MTA. 

5 hours ago, Union Tpke said:

 9. The MTA will immediately expedite the completion of the Subway Action Plan including: signal repair; water management; station enhancements; rail welding; friction pad installation; increased refurbishment efforts; and other service improvements.

Oh yay, let's have the one statement supporting continuity be of the most wasteful part of subway recovery plans. 

Edited by RR503
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5 hours ago, Union Tpke said:

8. The MTA will have all major construction projects and planned projects pursued as "design build."  The MTA will do preliminary drawings only to the point necessary for bidding the project in a private sector competition based primarily on cost and timing of the project.  Selections will be made with incentives and sanctions for performance.  All major construction projects will be reviewed by construction and engineering experts who are not affiliated with the MTA or its consultants.  The construction review team will be headed by the Deans of Cornell School of Engineering and Columbia School of Engineering to assure state of the art design and technology is being deployed.  This group will also review the plans for signal system upgrade methodology and decide the best system to use, specifically comparing Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) to Ultra-Wide-Band (UWB) technology for safety, timeliness and cost.  The MTA will be more aggressive in debarring failed contractors.

 

This concerns me. These deans aren't even certified professional engineers, and we're expected to take their recommendations and intuitions as fact for "state-of-the-art? Academia is quite different from actual engineering process, and it seems like Cuomo and De Blasio fail to realize this. It sounds like it will lead to more band-aids on top of bullet wounds, like the L shutdown't.

Also, as Around The Horn said, this focus on design-build and "innovation at all costs" seems to be leading us to a situation similar to what happened back when the R44 and R46 were introduced-the subway is simply too complex and too vital to sustain large-scale tests of unproven tech. This does not mean that it should not learn from other agencies, though.

 

Edited by Jcb
added extra point

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So the goal now is to merge everything into a megacorporation.

How's that (MTA) Bus/NYCT Surface merger going? It's been what - 10 years?

I'd've been impressed if they came out and said "We're breaking up the (MTA) since even big business realized conglomerates are crap."

Plus ça change.

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Generally, this plan fails to address what I see as the MTA's biggest flaws: a lack of clear political accountability, an overlarge operating budget, debt structure issues, over-restricted procurement processes (a reality driven by Albany just as much as by the agency itself, mind you), disempowered employees, myopic management, and a planning bureaucracy that seems to have fallen way behind the curve. 

Until next time, I guess. 

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9 minutes ago, RR503 said:

Generally, this plan fails to address what I see as the MTA's biggest flaws: a lack of clear political accountability, an overlarge operating budget, debt structure issues, over-restricted procurement processes (a reality driven by Albany just as much as by the agency itself, mind you), disempowered employees, myopic management, and a planning bureaucracy that seems to have fallen way behind the curve. 

Until next time, I guess. 

It's NY - can't actually have government accountable to the people, cuz then they'll expect government to listen to and obey them.

I really miss West Coast government progressivism. Might've been annoying to have to vote for water board directors and have three pages of ballot propositions to vote 'NO' on, but we could change EVERYTHING on EVERY election day. Instead, we get the all-empowered executive who puts lipstick on pigs and expects us to say how pretty they are.

Edited by Deucey
Subject-verb agreement
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1 hour ago, Jcb said:

This concerns me. These deans aren't even certified professional engineers, and we're expected to take their recommendations and intuitions as fact for "state-of-the-art? Academia is quite different from actual engineering process, and it seems like Cuomo and De Blasio fail to realize this.

I’m surprised they didn’t just decide to hire a theoretical physicist. After all:

aSSAxkt.png

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4 hours ago, bobtehpanda said:

I am immediately suspicious of anything that Cuomo and BdB agree on. Talk is cheap.

Same here, but I'm unsure if it can work.

1 hour ago, LaGuardia Link N Tra said:

You beat me to this statement. (even though I would've phrased it differently) 

I was going to say that as well, because I doubt Cuomo and DeBlasio working together as well for the subways after bickering over it. As Michael Jackson once said:

Quote

Your talk is cheap
You're not a man
You're throwin' stones
To hide your hands

 

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On 2/26/2019 at 6:43 PM, Jcb said:

This concerns me. These deans aren't even certified professional engineers, and we're expected to take their recommendations and intuitions as fact for "state-of-the-art? Academia is quite different from actual engineering process, and it seems like Cuomo and De Blasio fail to realize this. It sounds like it will lead to more band-aids on top of bullet wounds, like the L shutdown't.

Also, as Around The Horn said, this focus on design-build and "innovation at all costs" seems to be leading us to a situation similar to what happened back when the R44 and R46 were introduced-the subway is simply too complex and too vital to sustain large-scale tests of unproven tech. This does not mean that it should not learn from other agencies, though.

 

I think they should really tread lightly on taking the recommendations of the Columbia and Cornell guys. We shouldn’t be in a situation where this solution will lead to a problem.

 

FYI, I just made my very first thread on the forums about that the other day, as it came up on the news and I posted it up two hours later. You might want to check it out. Click this link: 

 

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On 2/26/2019 at 2:50 PM, Lawrence St said:

One of the reasons why fare evasion is more of a problem now is because of the way how they designed the new fare areas on the ESI stations.

I somewhere read, probably unofficially, OMNY will allow "walk down the subway train between stations checking for fare evaders". Leaning over, pressing the bar, and going in isn't that useful if its gates+POP, not gates only.

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3 hours ago, bulk88 said:

I somewhere read, probably unofficially, OMNY will allow "walk down the subway train between stations checking for fare evaders". Leaning over, pressing the bar, and going in isn't that useful if its gates+POP, not gates only.

You mean fare checkers will be able to walk and use a scanner to check that you paid the fare?

Good.

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