MTA Chairman Janno Lieber sent a letter to Congress explaining that he needed $1 billion more to expand and update camera systems throughout its subways, buses and commuter rail lines. The estimated total project cost is $1.3 billion.
There is only $300 million programmed within the current $51 billion 2020 – 2024 Five Year Capital Plan, leaving a shortfall of $1 billion. The MTA averages $1.5 billion in annual funding from the Federal Transit Administration. This will grow to $2 billion yearly over coming years. It is the MTA, not FTA, which determines how these dollars are spent. This does not include even more from the FTA national competitive discretionary Capital Investment Grants New Starts/Core Expansion and other programs.
Since the MTA only programmed $300 million, you have to assume that the balance of funding would be spent under the next 2025 – 2029 Five Year Capital Program. What is the current status for design, engineering, procurement and implementation schedule for purchase and installation? Will Lieber make public the detailed project implementation schedule week by week, month by month and year by year for installation of cameras?
This should include the NYC Transit fleet of 6,400 subway cars. NYC Transit, Manhattan and Bronx Surface Operating Authority and MTA Bus combined fleet of 5,500 buses. Long Island Rail Road fleet of 1,151, Metro North Rail Road fleet of 1,268 and Staten Island Railway (managed by NYC Transit) fleet of 61 rail cars. There are also 473 NYC Transit subway, 21 Staten Island Railway, 124 LIRR and 124 Metro North stations.
Have cameras been incorporated into previously awarded contracts for both fleet purchases and station reconstruction projects for all operating agencies? Shouldn’t the MTA consider using a portion of the upcoming Congestion Mitigation Toll revenues for funding. The latest recovery schedule calls for implementation of tolling to begin by December 2023.
Another option is to reprogram funding currently allocated toward the proposed $6.9 billion Second Avenue Subway Phase 2 and $3.6 billion Metro North Bronx East Penn Station Access.
Stop crying wolf to Washington year after year, every time you need more money. Real leadership makes the difficult decisions on how to allocate existing financial resources already available.
(Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office.