Friday, 08 January 2010 00:00
Last week, the proposed 2010-2014 MTA Capital Plan was vetoed by the Executive Branch’s representative to the MTA Capital Program Review Board (CPRB.) This veto, the first vote cast, automatically sent the plan back to the MTA under CPRB rules.
As the Senate Majority’s representative on the CPRB, I strongly urge MTA officials to reassess its capital needs and draft a better, balanced and more responsible plan for approval.
A capital plan is important to our region. It is needed to maintain and strengthen our mass transit infrastructure, and it would create local jobs at a time when the construction sector is experiencing massive unemployment.
However, it was clear that this just-rejected plan was not the way to accomplish these goals.
This $28.1 billion proposal only identified funding for the first two years and had a $10 billion deficit. This funding gap was delivered to us without a single suggestion from MTA officials on how to fill it.
I have suggestions for them as they consider a revised plan:
• Focus on its core mission of delivering timely, dependable mass transportation. These projects include developing a strong regional bus system for north-south travel, and repairing MTA-owned bridges, several of which are in the 7th Senate District.
• Re-examine expensive, but non-vital initiatives – such as countdown clocks at New York City bus stops.
Based on the breathtaking speed the MTA recently slashed its operating budget by more than $400 million, I am confident the MTA and its board can scale down the proposed capital plan in a very short time.
I also expect that any new proposal will include no funding for Third Track. I made certain that not one penny was allocated for Third Track construction in the last proposed plan, and—as long as I’m a member of the Capital Program Review Board—I will continue to make sure that Third Track receives no funding.
Since my appointment, I’ve been committed to opening up what has been a closed and secretive process. I launched a website that would allow the residents of the MTA Region to review and comment on the plan and its supporting documents (it can be found at www.craigjohnson.nysenate.gov) and held the first-ever public hearings on a MTA Capital Plan.
This process will continue when a revised Capital Plan is referred to the CPRB.