Mayor: State Must Do More to Fund MTA's Capital Plan
While the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is essentially run by the governor, the mayor is weighing in on how to fund the agency's plans to maintain and expand the system. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
The Second Avenue Subway will provide some relief for riders on the overcrowded Lexington Avenue line once its first three stations open in 20 months. But beyond that?
"Do we start the next phase of Second Avenue Subway if we don't have enough money to get into the expansion part of that program? That'd be one that would be up on the table," said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast.
Unless the MTA gets its $32 billion dollar capital program fully funded, which at this point is no sure thing.
In a visit to Albany on Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio added his voice to the chorus demanding more money for the five-year program, which pays for things like expanding the system, replacing aging subway cars and keeping tracks and other critical equipment in shape.
"The state must do more to fund the MTA's Capital Plan, a situation that is reaching crisis levels," de Blasio said.
Transit advocates said the mayor also needs to kick in far more. Since the early 1980s, the city has contributed roughly $100 million a year to the MTA.
"If it had stuck to the rate of inflation, it would be giving about $341 million, according to the Independent Budget Office, or $1.7 billion to this upcoming five-year program," said Gene Russianoff of Straphangers Campaign.
The MTA is hoping the city hikes its contribution 25 percent, to $125 million a year. Even that is chump change, though. It would still leave the capital program with a huge, multi-billion-dollar shortfall.
"Mayor de Blasio is not being a hypocrite by saying that the state can do better. He can do better, too," Russianoff said.
Advocates added that the city certainly can do more, especially given its surging tax revenues.
Prendergast said he's keeping the faith that funding will come through for the authority, as it always has, since the first capital program in the early 1980s.
"Whatever it takes, over the last 30 years, New York, whether it be the state level, the federal level or city level, gets the money it needs to get the MTA to keep running," Prendergast said.
For now, the source of that funding still has to be found.