To The Editor:
Here is how to find the money for “Lhota Promises To Address SEQ Transit Woes” [Trone Dowd, the PRESS of Southeast Queens, Dec. 22] and others around the MTA system. Why not have the MTA reprogram $695 million Metro North East Bronx Penn Station Access, $1.7 billion Second Avenue Subway phase 2, $1.95 billion Long Island Rail Road Main Line Third Track, $573 million to Cubic Transportation Systems for a new fare collection system to replace MetroCard and a $23 million Customer Service Ambassador program worth over $4.9 billion?
These dollars could be better spent providing $400 million to fully funding the emergency $836 million “Subway Action Plan” to deal with today’s problems. They could also provide funding for improvements to Southeast Queens, along with a $4.4 billion down payment against the current $17 billion shortfall needed to bring the subway signal system up to a state of good repair.
All five cancelled projects can be funded out of the next MTA 2020-2024 Five Year Capital Plan. This still provides ample time for both Metro North East Bronx Penn Station Access and LIRR Main Line Third Track project completions to coincide with the LIRR East Side Access to Grand Central Terminal by December 2023. What good do Customer Service Station ambassadors or a new fare collection system do if you are still stuck on the platform waiting for a train?
Cuomo still needs to come up with a $5.8 billion balance of the $8.3 billion balance he still owes to fund the $32 billion 2015-2019 MTA Five Year Capital Plan. De Blasio needs to do the same for the balance of his $2.5 billion share for the same. In addition, De Blasio owes his 50 percent share of $836 million more in new funding to deal with this past summer’s subway and LIRR Penn Station crises.
Cuomo and De Blasio both continue to remind me of the character Wimpy, who famously said, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” Tuesday never seems to come for commuters and taxpayers.
Larry Penner is a transportation historian and advocate who previously worked 31 years for the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office.