Apr
09

MTA to cut $40 million from back-end projects

By · Published in 2010

In a few months, the MTA will drastically scale back train and bus service throughout the New York region in an effort to close approximately $383 million of a $790 million budget gap. As the authority struggles to find savings to cover the remaining $378 million shortfall, CEO and Chair Jay Walder announced plans yesterday to save $40 million through cuts to projects that won’t impact service.

To achieve this goal, the authority has conducted what they call a “top-to-bottom review of every project in the operating budget to see what can be eliminated or put on hold.” To do this, the authority has cut or put on hold 141 non-essential projects that either are not required by law or are not necessary to maintain passenger safety or quality of service. This total includes nearly 50 percent of all projects originally slated for 2010.

On a generally level, these cuts are aimed at trimming the MTA’s fat. Thirty-five facility renovation projects are being shelved, including some that replace working parts with newer ones. The MTA will not be upgrading its fleet of employee vehicles, and 82 IT upgrades are being shelved for another year for a savings of $17 million.

Specifically, one major project designed to improve the MTA’s armrests on commuter rail lines will be deferred another year. The news of armrests snagging pants first came to my attention during the early days of Second Ave. Sagas, and in 2007, the authority vowed to fix it. Now, in order to save $3 million, the pants-ripping armrests will remain, and the authority will simply eat the $15,000 a year it pays in tailoring costs. “We’re going to rely on people to get used to the way the armrests are,” Walder said.

In the end, as MTA COO Charles Monheim said, “this is nuts-and-bolts stuff.” Yet, the MTA has to find another $338 million in savings. Walder is working to renegotiate vendor contracts and will soon meet with labor heads to discuss that situation. But it is, as the MTA recognizes, extremely tough to close an $800 million gap without raising fares or relying on a congestion pricing/bridge toll plan. Still, fare hikes remain off the table until 2010, the state legislature hasn’t acted on Pedro Espada’s bridge toll proposal yet, and the fat trimming will continue.



Categories : MTA Economics

11 Responses to “MTA to cut $40 million from back-end projects”

  1. Marc Shepherd says:

    On a generally level, these cuts are aimed at trimming the MTA’s fat.

    I wouldn’t call these projects fat, as they appear to do useful things. They are just necessary casualties in the current fiscal environment.

    When you refer to MTA fat, most people think you mean utterly useless, wasteful expenditures. These don’t seem to fit that description.

    • Fair enough.

      Although I think a plan to replace a working air conditioner with a new working air conditioner should be considered fat, no? I guess it’s all context-dependent.

      • SEAN says:

        These are a few comments in todays Journal News on this issue. I wonder what your thaughts are.

        Sorry for the extreme length.

        mdam4213 wrote:

        When is Walder going to tackle the real problem, the Unions? When is he going to eliminate G-days and make MTA employees and other public servants, such as police officers, pay to ride the trains. For those of you who do not know what a G-day is, it is when you get paid for staying home. Apparently, the incompetent fools hired too many engineers a few years back.

        4/9/2010 1:27:35 PM When is Walder going to tackle the real problem, the Unions? When is he going to eliminate G-days and make MTA employees and other public servants, such as police officers, pay to ride the trains. For those of you who do not know what a G-day is, it is when you get paid for staying home. Apparently, the incompetent fools hired too many engineers a few years back. mdam4213

        libnonsense wrote:

        Can this useless organization be shut down once and for all! All they do is cry poverty and raise prices on bridges, tolls and rails. anyone who cannot see the inefficiencies and the corruption is blind.

        4/9/2010 11:24:02 AM Can this useless organization be shut down once and for all! All they do is cry poverty and raise prices on bridges, tolls and rails. anyone who cannot see the inefficiencies and the corruption is blind. libnonsense

        Cicero2 wrote:

        CA pensions alone are unfunded to the tune of $425 BILLION:
        CA pensions alone are unfunded to the tune of $425 BILLION:
        http://dailyreckoning.com/cali.....g-trouble/ but it’s not “all” the fault of unions. Bipartisan collusion among Congress, the Federal Reserve, & host of special interest groups that flock to the ever increasing supply of money & power in DC like moths to a bright light on a dark night are part of the problem, as are hemorrhaging heart libs whose blood never makes a complete cycle thru the brain. They pine for a world where we all sing Kumbaya arm in arm around the socialist fire, bleating like sheep for the gov’t to micromanage health, education, & welfare. It’s a very Christian vision, where we all recognize our brotherhood & care for the poor. But Christ didnt advocate the brute force of gov’t to make us follow thru on our duty. The transformation must be of free, individual hearts, not imposed from the top down by the fedgov.

        4/9/2010 11:02:02 AM CA pensions alone are unfunded to the tune of $425 BILLION:CA pensions alone are unfunded to the tune of $425 BILLION:http://dailyreckoning.com/cali.....g-trouble/ but it’s not “all” the fault of unions. Bipartisan collusion among Congress, the Federal Reserve, & host of special interest groups that flock to the ever increasing supply of money & power in DC like moths to a bright light on a dark night are part of the problem, as are hemorrhaging heart libs whose blood never makes a complete cycle thru the brain. They pine for a world where we all sing Kumbaya arm in arm around the socialist fire, bleating like sheep for the gov’t to micromanage health, education, & welfare. It’s a very Christian vision, where we all recognize our brotherhood & care for the poor. But Christ didnt advocate the brute force of gov’t to make us follow thru on our duty. The transformation must be of free, individual hearts, not imposed from the top down by the fedgov. Cicero2

        eatingdogfood wrote:

        You Can Thank The Unions For This Mess !!! No Politician Has The Guts To Go Up Against The Union Thugs !!! The Country Is Down The Tubes And The F’ing Unions Are Still Pulling The Same Old Tricks !!! The Airlines, The Steel Companies, The Auto Companies, California, New Jersey, Illinois, New York; Its All The F’ing Unions Fault !!! How Much Longer Before We Declare Marshall Law On These F’ing Unions !!!

        4/9/2010 10:37:18 AM You Can Thank The Unions For This Mess !!! No Politician Has The Guts To Go Up Against The Union Thugs !!! The Country Is Down The Tubes And The F’ing Unions Are Still Pulling The Same Old Tricks !!! The Airlines, The Steel Companies, The Auto Companies, California, New Jersey, Illinois, New York; Its All The F’ing Unions Fault !!! How Much Longer Before We Declare Marshall Law On These F’ing Unions !!! eatingdogfood

        arbitrary wrote:

        The correct quote is by Lord Acton, 1887, who wrote: ” Power Tends To Corrupt,and Absolute Power
        Corrupts Absolutely.

        4/9/2010 9:39:13 AM The correct quote is by Lord Acton, 1887, who wrote: ” Power Tends To Corrupt,and Absolute PowerCorrupts Absolutely. arbitrary

        Cicero2 wrote:

        Who to blame? Us! Our family, friends, & neighbors, the firemen, police, teachers, each demanding an ever bigger slice of the socialist pie. The entre system is going to collapse on us if we don’t drastically alter our view on the proper role of gov’t. The simple, eternal laws of the universe are still at play. Human nature, for all its wonderful qualities & potential, is deeply flawed. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. If not this benevolent king or President or party now, then with all certainty a successor. Its why the Constitution has all those pesky checks & balances to handcuff the fedgov so severely, strictly limiting its proper role to the few & defined legitimate areas clearly detailed in it. We must cut the fedgov beast to half its size, cost, & influence and return the debate about how much socialism to impose on each other down to the state level, where we’ll still have a tough road ahead to clean up the bipartisan cesspool of corruption in Albany

        4/9/2010 8:13:10 AM Who to blame? Us! Our family, friends, & neighbors, the firemen, police, teachers, each demanding an ever bigger slice of the socialist pie. The entre system is going to collapse on us if we don’t drastically alter our view on the proper role of gov’t. The simple, eternal laws of the universe are still at play. Human nature, for all its wonderful qualities & potential, is deeply flawed. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. If not this benevolent king or President or party now, then with all certainty a successor. Its why the Constitution has all those pesky checks & balances to handcuff the fedgov so severely, strictly limiting its proper role to the few & defined legitimate areas clearly detailed in it. We must cut the fedgov beast to half its size, cost, & influence and return the debate about how much socialism to impose on each other down to the state level, where we’ll still have a tough road ahead to clean up the bipartisan cesspool of corruption in Albany Cicero2

        Cicero2 wrote:

        The union thugs running the MTA and many of their rank and file have nobody but their own greedy selves to blame. Even as the NY Times was running a long series of articles exposing the fact that school districts, towns, counties, and states across America were facing untold debt because of the lucrative benefits unions like the MTA extorted, they were striking and shutting down NY City transportation. Why? Because they were being asked to have new members work for 30 years before they retire with their booty – everybody already in got to keep their “retire after 25 years” deal! Who in the heck retires after only 30 years of service, much less 25? And with those benefits? Teachers? Same deal, retire after 25 years. The NY Times exposed the fraud in the LIRR retirement system that saw well over 90% of them retire early on disability. They noted that we didn’t suffer casualties like that on Iwo Jima! Unions were necessary and did a lot of good but have become a scourge on our nation.

        4/9/2010 7:59:42 AM

        • Rhywun says:

          I got as far as “Can this useless organization be shut down once and for all!” and bailed. Idiotic and un-serious commentary doesn’t deserve a response.

          • SEAN says:

            Those are your tipical comments from TJN. I agree with you.

            I don’t want to repeat what was posted on other threds. Lets just say that the secret service should be notified.

      • Marc Shepherd says:

        I am assuming (unless shown otherwise) that the idea was to replace the air conditioner on a normal replacement cycle, rather than waiting till it breaks.

        Now, if the original AC was installed just 2 years ago, then that would be fat, but if it’s past the normal life of the unit, then it’s just a prudent technology refresh that, in “normal” times, ought to be done on a predictable schedule.

        • Woody says:

          Yes, and the replacements would surely be more energy efficient, often significantly so depending on the age of the a/c units. The new models could save so much in lower electricity bills as to pay for themselves in a few years.

          In this case, the deal is that the MTA will continue to spend more on its electric bills (meanwhile helping to pollute the fragile Earth) to avoid or postpone the one-time cost of new efficient equipment. I understand why they have to do it, but it is not exactly a “savings” and it certainly is not cutting fat.

  2. JK says:

    Benjamin

    Per coverage here, and Streetsblog, last month, it would be more accurate to refer to that $143 million on line one of your budget chart as “Impoundment” or “Theft” of “Transit Dedicated Taxes.” The word “cut” implies that the MTA is receiving funds from the state’s general budget, which it is not. Transit advocates need to be extremely aware of the likelihood that Albany is going to attempt to take more from dedicated taxes — especially the new Mobility Tax.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] the end of last week, the MTA announced $40 million in savings through cuts to back-end projects, and in doing so, authority officials said they would next begin […]

  2. […] inefficiencies. The authority has eliminated nearly $50 million in managerial staffing positions, cut 141 capital improvement projects for a savings of $40 million and renegotiated $17 million in contractor savings. Still, the gap is […]

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