Dear Letters Editor:
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg’s announcement of delivering billions in federal funding for construction of Second Avenue Subway Phase 2 leaves motorists, riders and taxpayers paying for a very expensive MTA transit project. MTA must accept the terms and conditions within the $7.7 billion Federal Transit Administration Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA). FTA caps its funding at $3.4 billion. The MTA is responsible for both the $4.3 billion local share and any inevitable cost overruns. MTA is committing to provide $378 million each year from 2025 up to 2032 representing a majority of the local share.. How can the MTA make such a legal commitment for this time period when the MTA Board, State Legislature and Governor have not submitted, reviewed or approved the next 2025 - 2029 and 2030 - 2034 Five Year Capital Plans?
Part of the project cost includes spending $3.4 billion to pay for three new stations. Based upon my previous experience working at FTA, these may be some of the most expensive stations built in America. These funds could have been programmed to pay for upgrading outdated signal systems on many of the NYC Transit 26 subway lines. That investment would benefit far more riders than Second Avenue Subway Phase 2. If Congestion Toll Pricing doesn’t raise the anticipated annual $1 billion, how will the MTA make up for the shortfall? Which state of good repair capital projects will be delayed or cancelled to preserve Second Avenue Phase 2 local funding? The other 95 percent of five million MTA pre-COVID 19 riders, who don’t benefit from this investment, will be stuck with the tab. Buyer beware! Sincerely, Larry Penner
Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously served as a Director for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office of Operations and Program Management.