When it comes to transit, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s State of the State Speech and accompanying 267-page book “Achieving the New York Dream” left out how she was going to pay for all her commitments.
No explanation on how she failed to deliver on the promised start of Long Island Rail Road East Side Access to Grand Central Madison by December 2022.
No details have been provided on how Hochul’s proposed $5.5 billion Interboro Express Brooklyn to Queens Light Rail Connector will be paid for.
No details have been provided on how Albany will procure its matching 25% share, or $4 billion, toward the $16 billion Phase One (two new tunnels plus rehab of the two existing tunnels) and another $4 billion more to pay for the full build $33.4 billion Gateway Tunnel.
No details have been provided for the cost to the MTA of providing a 24/7 discounted low- cost, flat-fare, City Ticket for NYC residents boarding either Long Island Rail Road or Metro North Rail Road trains at stations within NYC. What will happen if many of the thousands of new riders end up standing in the aisles? How will conductors manage to walk through the trains to collect fares?
No details on how Albany will deal with the looming MTA multibillion-dollar, multi-year financial shortfall.
No details about how to deal with $500 million in lost revenue due to fare beaters from 2022.
No details about any progress made by the MTA Traffic Mobility Review Board, which is supposed to determine prices for congestion toll pricing. Will the process be transparent and meetings open to the public? Tolling is supposed to be implemented by December 2023 or early 2024. Revenues are supposed to raise $15 billion toward paying for the MTA $51 billion 2020 – 2024 Five Year Capital Plan.
No details about how the MTA will deal with funding future wage increases that the Transit Workers Union will ask for when their current contract expires in May 2023. The MTA only budgeted 2% per year for the next contract. The MTA’s current contract with the NYC Transit Transport Workers Union Local 100 is set to expire on May 15, 2023. Inflation was 4.16% in 2021 and exceeded 8% in 2022. It is fair to assume that NYC Transit union leadership will ask for wage increases to keep up with inflation? Whatever the TWU obtains, Long Island and Metro North Rail Road unions will follow and ask for parity.
No acknowledgement for a number of other major transportation projects she has previously supported. These include the $10 billion Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel, $10 billion Port Authority Bus Terminal, $8 billion Penn Station Redevelopment and MTA NYC Transit $6.9 billion Second Avenue Subway Phase 2 projects.
(Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously served as a former Director for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office of Operations and Program Management.