On Monday, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) released its "2010-2029 Twenty Year Needs" and "Preliminary 2010-2014 Capital Program" for public review and comment. Taken together, these documents identify the MTA's long-term infrastructure needs and a short-term plan to begin addressing them within current budget expectations. The documents are available at www.mta.info, where the public can also submit comments.
"The MTA's capital program is critical to maintaining the system that supports our economy, and we're pleased to be able to release the plan early to promote transparency and public input," said Helena E. Williams, the MTA's interim executive director. "We are ready to manage this capital program budget with new controls in place to mitigate risk, control costs and operate with full accountability."
Since 1982, the MTA has invested more than $75 billion in six successive programs that have restored the legacy of a system once on the brink of collapse. As a result, ridership levels are the highest since the 1950s, and infrastructure is more reliable than ever with the distance subway traveled between breakdowns increasing 1,800 percent for subway cars, 670 percent for buses and more than 500 percent for commuter railcars, according to the MTA.
The proposed 2010-2029 Twenty Year Needs and Preliminary 2010-2014 Capital Program are based on two guiding principles - rebuild the MTA's infrastructure and expand its system to accommodate growing demand. The $25.5 billion Proposed Draft 2010-2014 program focuses first and foremost on rebuilding the MTA's core infrastructure, which makes up 73 percent of the total program. Many of the proposed investments repair and replace fundamental components of the transit system:
* More than 500 new subway cars, 2,800 buses and 410 railcars;
* Signal improvements and upgrades for the commuter railroads and subways;
* Station renovations, including the introduction of a new program that targets necessary component improvements; and,
* Improved access for the disabled including audio-visual screens, low-floor buses, elevators, paratransit vehicles and ADA-compliant stations.
Wherever possible, obsolete or inefficient infrastructure will be replaced with smart investments, such as new technologies and innovative services including:
* A new contactless fare payment system to more fully integrate regional travel;
* Real time customer information to allow customers to optimize trip planning;
* Bus rapid transit initiatives, using low-floor buses, off-board fare collection, dedicated bus lanes and signal prioritization to speed bus service;
* New train control systems to increase capacity and safety on subways and commuter railroads; and,
* New subway transfers and strategic commuter rail investments to make the existing system work better for customers.
These rebuilding investments are complemented by investments to expand the system to meet growing regional demand. The MTA's expansion plan includes the completion of its three critical, ongoing projects and the analysis of a number of new initiatives:
* First phase of the Second Avenue Subway, which will relieve overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue subway lines and carry more than 200,000 customers;
* East Side Access, which will save 76,000 daily customers up to 40 minutes a day by bringing LIRR trains to Grand Central;
* Extension of the 7 subway line to 34th Street and 11th Avenue, which will support development of Manhattan's Far West Side;
* Study of Staten Island's North and West Shore travel corridors, which will identify ways to support faster and more reliable transit service on Staten Island;
* Queens Boulevard Corridor study, which will evaluate solutions for meeting today's high demand and serving projected population and employment growth as well;
* Regional bus analysis to learn about the opportunities and challenges of a more unified regional bus system; and,
* Continued study of Tappan Zee corridor, which will evaluate alternatives for the Bridge, including transit, to reduce congestion and improve mobility.
The $25.5 billion draft plan includes funding assumptions from local, state and federal partners, but requires an additional approximately $10 billion to implement the program as presented. Public input will be incorporated into a revised plan that will be formally presented to the MTA Board in September, before being submitted for final approval in Albany in October, as required by law. The MTA hopes to gain approval of the final plan by January 1, 2010, the effective date of the new five-year plan.