The MTA wants to transform the transit system, but says it needs $3 billion dollars from city taxpayers to help do it.
MTA executives went before the City Council's transportation to make their case, and got an earful in return.
"We can't make decisions on a three billion-dollar magnitude based off a few estimates and a Power Point presentation," said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
Johnson demanded detailed spending plans and schedules for pricey projects, including a sweeping upgrade of the subway's ancient signal system.
And several Council members questioned the MTA's decision to hire 500 more officers for its police force, while it faces daunting deficits,
"You just said that the MTA's financial position is dire,” said Johnson.
"Yes, absolutely," said an MTA official.
"That's frightening," Johnson added.
"The MTA needs to make the case that spending more money on police isn't going to hinder their ability to deliver core transit service and to deliver on the capital plan," said Rachael Fauss of Reinvent Albany.
And members of the Transport Workers Union made their anger clear, upset they are working under an expired contract, and furious the agency is putting money that could fund raises into its capital plan.
"No capital plan works without these men behind me. They move the buses, they move the city," said J.P. Patafio, of the Transport Workers Union Local 100.
The MTA has proposed a record $51.5 billion improvement plan to fund everything from new subway trains to an extension of the Second Avenue subway. The billions sought from City Hall is on top of money the MTA wants to raise from a new fee on vehicles entering large parts of Manhattan.
MTA Chairman Pat Foye tied the city's portion of the tab to installing more elevators in subways
"The three billion dollars from the state and the three billion dollars from the city of New York are dedicated to accessibility investments. With respect to the city's investment, entirely to accessibility investments in the subways," said Foye.
As for the Council speaker's demand for more details, the MTA's construction chief said that information could be provided, but only after the capital plan was approved. The MTA hopes to do that, by the end of the year.