Why Is Penner Silent About the FTA?

Why Is Penner Silent About the FTA?

To the Editor,

You can tell a lot about a self proclaimed transit advocate, historian, and writer by what he doesn’t say.

“Part of the [2nd avenue expansion] cost includes spending $3.4 billion to pay for three new stations. Based upon my previous experience working at FTA, these may be the most expensive stations built in America,” says Mr. Penner.

Mr. Penner does not mention any stations. Maybe? Mr. Penner worked 31 years at FTA and he doesn’t know?

Nuts and bolts research, four words that are apparently four letter words to Mr. Penner, would reveal to Mr. Penner the most expensive train station in America is Oculus at the World Trade Center site, at $4 billion.

“The other 95% of 5 million MTA pre-COVID 19 riders, who don’t benefit from this investment, will be stuck with the tab,” says Mr. Penner.

First, why does the author continually refer to the riding public as “pre-COVID riders?”

Depending upon your interpretation we are either still in COVID or past COVID. How exactly does Mr. Penner know how many riders rode the subway prior to COVID?

Second, can’t it be said that work done on specific portions of the subway doesn’t benefit the vast majority of the subway riding public? I’m stuck with the tab to repair the L tunnels after Super Storm Sandy.

This however is the real question. “MTA accepted the terms and conditions within…Federal Transit Administration Capital Investment Grant. FTA caps its funding at $3.4 billion.” Isn’t FTA responsible for monitoring all aspects of a project for which it grants funding? This being the case, why did the FTA approve funding for this project knowing it “the MTA board, state Legislature and governor have not submitted, reviewed or approved the next 2025-2029 and 2030-2034 five-year capital plans?”

Why did the FTA approve funding knowing “[t]he MTA claims this project would benefit 100,000 anticipated NYC Transit subway riders out of over 5 million pre-COVID-19 numbers.

This represents a very small fraction of daily riders and may be wishful thinking?” Mr. Penner is as silent as a cigar store Indian on this. Why? Elected officials, transit advocates, watchdog groups, the riding public, transit reporters, those paying federal and state taxes and motorists deserve answers.

Nat Weiner


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