- After weeks of increasingly severe subway delays, the MTA voted on a new spending plan that does not include additional money for repairs and could lead to higher fares.
- Advocates and unions say more money is needed to actually fix the MTA.
- Cuomo’s promises of attention so far haven’t translated into significant action.
Just a day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a contest to quickly improve the subways following mounting delays, the MTA board voted for a spending plan that showed where its priorities really are: not with riders.
What’s in the new spending plan?
The MTA voted for $3 billion in new spending between now and 2019. That money will go toward these main expenses:
- $1.5 billion for a new Long Island Rail Road track
- $700 million to begin construction on the second phase of the Second Avenue Subway
- $400 million to replace tollbooths with electronic systems
Replacing the subway’s outdated, Great Depression-era technology did not get any additional funding and the MTA actually pushed back work on the 8th Ave A/C/E lines until 2020. They also cut over $1 billion in funding for new trains.
Moreover, the additional spending is coming from debt that could lead to higher fares. While MTA CFO Robert Foran said the Authority would not need to increase MetroCard prices more than every two years, acting MTA Chair Fernando Ferrer told reporters, “of course it means” commuters would pay more. He added his hope that State and City government would also take on some of those new costs.
What are people saying?
While advocates were happy about the additional spending, they criticized how the money will be used. “These changes won’t address riders’ core concern of the increase in crowding, breakdowns and delays,” John Raskin, executive director of the transit advocacy group Riders Alliance said.
John Samuelsen, President of Transport Workers Union Local 100 which represents MTA subway workers, called for a significant increase in spending:
“All levels of government have to come to grips with one reality; they need to dramatically increase the investment in mass transit infrastructure and manpower. Long-term funding solutions are needed for both the MTA’s capital and operating budget.”
Where’s Cuomo in this?
The MTA board is ultimately controlled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He’s talking about improving the subway but the MTA’s new plans and their lack of money for those fixes suggest it’s just talk.
Ferrer, however, offered praise for Cuomo. “Those are problems no rational politician runs toward — they run away from. He’s running toward them, and I give him an enormous amount of credit for it.”