Readers Write: Second Avenue Subway Phase 2 now short $4.3B

Readers Write: Second Avenue Subway Phase 2 now short $4.3B

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s pause for implementation of congestion pricing which was supposed to start on June 30 has other consequences such as its adverse impact on preserving $3.4 billion in Federal Transit Administration funding and $4.3 billion local MTA share promised from congestion pricing as part of the FTA/MTA $7.7 billion Capital Investment Grant Full Funding Grant Agreement to finance Second Avenue Subway Phase 2.

It also adds $10,7 billion in missing congestion price tolling revenue that was supposed to fund $15 billion of the $51 billion MTA 2020 – 2024 Five-Year Capital Plan.

This $10.6 billion included $3 billion to replace 1930s signals on the A & C Brooklyn subway lines, B, D. F & M Manhattan subway lines; $2 billion to bring dozens of subway stations into compliance with the Americans With Disability Act including elevators; $2 billion for new subway cars, electric buses and charging stations; and $3 billion for various capital improvements for both Long Island and Metro North Rail Roads.

Ironically, the MTA has already spent over $500 million for installation, maintenance and operations of equipment and other expenses related to tolling for congestion pricing.

This delay in implementing congestion pricing could lead to the loss of $3.4 billion in FTA funding toward the $7.7 Billion Second Avenue Subway Phase 2 FTA/MTA CIG FFGA approved in the Fall of 2023.

It also adds $11,6 billion in missing congestion price tolling revenue that was supposed to fund $15 billion of the $51 billion MTA 2020 – 2024 Five-Year Capital Plan.

Is Gov. Hochul’s delay in congestion pricing politically motivated? Is it an attempt to protect Democrats running for the state Assembly, state Senate and Congress within the MTA service area in the outer boroughs of NYC, Long Island and Hudson Valley from Republican challengers using this issue against them?

Are the adverse consequences of preserving $3.4 billion in FTA funding approved in the $7.7 billion ($4.3 billion MTA local share pledged from Congestion Pricing) CIG FFGA approved last fall even worse?

In January, 2024 the MTA said that due to ongoing litigation against implementation of Congestion Pricing, $15 billion in capital projects contained within the $51 billion 2020 – 2024 Five Year Capital Plan (including the $7.7 billion Second Avenue Subway) are now on hold.  This places $3.4 billion in the FTA  Second Avenue Subway Phase 2 FFGA  to MTA in jeopardy of being lost.

MTA previously accepted the terms and conditions within the FTA FFGA grant offer. This included a legal commitment that the $4.3 billion in local share was real, secure and in place. FTA caps its funding at $3.4 billion based upon the MTA’s commitment of a secure $4.3 billion local share.

MTA’s local share was based upon implementation of congestion pricing.

Month after month, continuing to place the project officially on hold and failing to advance the project will eventually result in FTA de obligating its $3.4 billion in funding and closing out the grant.

MTA would lose $3.4 billion in discretionary federal funding.  Never in MTA history, has the MTA lost FTA funding due to reneging on providing its legally required matching local share in any approved FTA grant.  MTA Chairman Janno Lieber would be the first MTA Chairman to do so and have egg on his face.

The federal Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General will monitor FTA to ensure that the agency enforces all legal requirements, as contained in the FTA $7.7 billion Second Avenue Subway CIG FFGA to MTA.

So will the Office of Management and Budget, along with members of the Senate and House Appropriations and Transportation Committees.

Transparency is required on the part of Gov. Kathy Hochul, MTA Chairman Janno Lieber, MTA Office of Capital Construction Jamie- Torres-Springer and Acting NYC Transit President Demetrius Crichlow when it comes to securing the required $4.3 billion MTA local share and any future promised cost savings.

The same holds true for my old colleagues at the Federal Transit Administration when it comes to enforcement for the approved $7.7 billion MTA Capital Investment Grant Full Funding Grant Agreement legal terms and conditions. Taxpayers, commuters, MTA Board members, elected officials and transit advocates should expect nothing less.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

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.



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