Tuesday, September 02, 2014

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MTA Chair Reiterates Need To Invest In Subway System

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Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Thomas Prendergast laid out his plan for the agency's next capital plan on Monday, which focuses more on strengthening the subway system for its next century and less on mega-projects like East Side Access. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

On Monday, new MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast presented his vision for the agency's next five-year capital plan, which aims to fortify the subway system with close to $30 billion in improvements to critical equipment.

It won't be heavy on the flash, but it is focused on efficiency and on strengthening the system against future storms like Hurricane Sandy.

"The projects that we're targeting for the next program may not be sexy, but they're the ones that are keeping our system safe," Prendergast said.

Speaking before hundreds of business leaders at a Crain's Forum, Prendergast emphasized the need to support the next capital plan, which has yet to be funded, but is essential to improving a system that, nearly one year later, continues to feel the effects of Sandy.

"We're working nonstop, constantly repairing thousands of components that are failing at significantly higher rates, because of the ravages that Hurricane Sandy put on us," Prendergast said.

Prendergast repeatedly pointed out that the subway system is more than a century old, and with more than a million people expected to move into the city over the next two decades, the need for constant upgrades isn't going away.

"Not only to fix and fortify our system, but importantly to make sure that the nuts and bolts and the things behind the walls that you can't see are in a state of good repair, so that the system you rely on every day is there for you," Prendergast said.

But things are lot different from when Prendergast first went to work for the city's transit system.

"There were fires and derailments and graffiti on every inch of every part of the system, and that's all been erased from the system, and it has been erased because of those $90 billion worth of investments we've made over the past 30 years," Prendergast said.

Also on the agenda is a previously-announced plan to swap out the Metrocard by 2019 for newer fare technology and a plan to continue cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from the agency's budget, while hopefully not slashing service.

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