MTA's Program to Rebuild Subway System Still Awaits Approval in Albany

First introduced 18 months ago, the MTA's multibillion-dollar program to rebuild the subway system is stuck in neutral, waiting for approval in Albany, a slow pace that's angering advocates and many lawmakers. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

Waiting on Albany to approve the MTA's five-year system upkeep plan can feel a lot a lot like waiting on a subway platform.

There are delays. The nearly $30 billion plan was supposed to be in the place by the start of last year.

"It is now almost 15 months since that time, and we still don't have a fully funded specific capital plan in place," said Assemblyman James Brennan of Brooklyn.

On Monday, transit advocates and state legislators criticized Governor Andrew Cuomo for not spelling out exactly how the state plans to fund the bulk of its $8.3 billion commitment. At stake is the renovation of stations, the purchase of new buses and subway cars, and the maintainance of elevated tracks, among other things.

Cuomo's pledge that the money will be there for the MTA, they said, isn't enough.

"We should not have the capital plan that our buses and subways depend on funded with an IOU," said state Senator Daniel Squadron, whose district covers parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan. "Riders wouldn't be allowed to do it. We as a state government shouldn't do it, either."

"The state should allocate the funding now," said John Raskin of Riders Alliance.

The criticism of the governor's funding commitment follow last year's lengthy duel between Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio over how much the city and state would contribute.

The two sides announced a deal last fall, but the governor hasn't actually put any new money into the budget. Advocates worry that means more borrowing for an agency already severely in debt.

The transit advocates and the state politicians aren't alone. The governor's funding pledge for the MTA has also been called into question by the city's Independent Budget Office and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

A Cuomo spokeswoman says the governor has put "unambiguous and iron-clad" language into the budget to ensure the MTA's multibillion-dollar needs get met. And MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast says the agency always ends up geting the money it needs from the state.

"One of the reasons I came back is, the money is here for the capital programs and operating budgets we need in good times, in bad times," Prendergast said.

Even if it sometimes takes a long time.

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