Home Capital Program 2010-2014 MTA unveils proposed $25.5bn capital program for 2010-14

MTA unveils proposed $25.5bn capital program for 2010-14

by Benjamin Kabak

Over the last 27 years, the MTA has invested $75 billion in a series of capital plans designed to boost transit infrastructure in the city. From its nadir in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the MTA has slowly worked toward a state of good repair with a complete overhaul of the system’s rolling stock, the introduction of electronic fare payment systems, station rehabilitation plans and the start of the system’s first new subway line in over eight decades.

Yet, as New York City grows, as transit ridership increases, as the system grows older and technology ages, the MTA needs to invest more and more into the system. Every year, as roads and drivers are subsidized, the MTA and New York City’s transit advocates face uphill battles in securing the billions needed for New York City’s subways.

Today, with ample time for public comment, the MTA has released a proposed draft of its 2010-2014 capital plan. It is a $25.5 billion plan with core infrastructure and technology needs accounting for nearly three-quarters of the five-year expenditure plan. The agency also released a twenty-year draft calling for over $80 billion in capital investment.

Over the next few days, I’ll delve in depth into the massive PDF presentation of the proposed capital plan. For now, let’s look at the MTA’s top-line proposals. As the agency’s site on the plan says, “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 rail cars;
  • 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.

Meanwhile, new technologies take centerstage in this five-year plan as well. The MTA is calling for full investment in “a new contactless fare payment system to more fully integrate regional travel.” The agency wants to bring “real-time customer information” online. On the ground, the following initiatives make up a substantial part of the plan as well:

  • 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.

Finally, we get to the big-ticket expansion items. The Second Ave. Subway is still limited to just Phase I, but it’s better than nothing. Unfortunately, these items are, for the most part, projects continued from the current capital plan. To adequately meet the demands, the MTA will need a far-reaching plan that transcends the limitations of a five-year investment period. Anyway, here they are:

  • 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 bring 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; and,
  • Continued study of Tappan Zee corridor, which will evaluate alternatives for the Bridge, including transit, to reduce congestion and improve mobility.

These documents are tough to digest in short order, and over the next few days, I’ll highlight the innovative aspects and much-needed parts of them. Expect a lot more analysis and a big political fight over the MTA’s future. That $25 billion price tag is steep, but not investing in transit will leave the city in a hole far larger than that.

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Eric August 10, 2009 - 10:36 pm

Another major plan to note is the new entrance points of Metro North lines. New Haven trains rerouted through the Bronx, to Queens, into Penn Station. Hudson like running through the old tracks on the west side into Penn. More interconnectivity between the Bronx. That certainly deserves some attention.

Alon Levy August 11, 2009 - 12:31 am

In Singapore, the EZ-Link smart card was first released in 2001-2, shortly after I started using the city’s bus system. By 2006, when I moved to the US, EZ-Link had completely supplanted the previous swipe-access card, and you could board buses through any door by tapping your card at the door or at the station. That involved not only installing card readers on every bus and at every station, but also working out a system whereby the card readers would know which station they’re at, since fares depend on distance.

For some reason, I have the feeling that the same development will take far more than 5 years in New York.

Streetsblog New York City » Today’s Headlines August 11, 2009 - 9:04 am

[…] There's Still a $10B Hole — At Least! — in MTA Capital Plan (News, MTR, Post, NY1, AMNY, SAS) […]

Quadboy August 11, 2009 - 9:12 am

Yet another study on the north and west shore railroads while staten island chokes to death on its own traffic.

The talking and studying has to end at some point. There’s only so many decades to do the already countless studies before people get fed up and leave.

Eric F August 11, 2009 - 10:32 am

Cars subsidize the MTA. You are well aware of that. The MTA is subsidized by auto and truck tolls, a sales tax surcharge, a real estate transfer tax, a utility bill tax, state aid drawn from income taxes and sales taxes, and lord knows what else. How about having the people who ride the system pay their own way for once. I wish the city’s capital expansion plans would allow some expansion of the roadway network as well. This city needs more of everything, not just transit.

rhywun August 11, 2009 - 7:08 pm

I’m willing to pay my own way if you are. In an alternate reality where everyone pays their own way, your driving costs would go way up, too.

Alon Levy August 12, 2009 - 9:29 am

Sure. Pony up the $2.21/gallon that you need to pay to offset the health problems stemming from your car’s pollution, and I’ll be happy to pay the $3.50/ride that New York City Transit needs to cover its costs.

JW August 11, 2009 - 10:57 am

Anything on Subways getting electronic boards to tell us when the next train is coming? They should post those at street level so people can figure out if they want to subway/ bus/ cab or walk somewhere. Nothing worse than waiting 20 min for a Subway in August…

Alon Levy August 12, 2009 - 9:31 am

Believe it or not, but in some cities the underground stations are air conditioned.

Jon G August 11, 2009 - 11:57 am

Only 76,000 people will be served by East Side Access? Oh no, that is very sad.

A five-year plan in need of $10 billion :: Second Ave. Sagas | A New York City Subway Blog August 11, 2009 - 3:49 pm

[…] delving into the renovation, expansion and purchase plans buried in the MTA’s proposed 2010-2014 capital plan, we have to face the fiscal reality of the package. The MTA needs this $25.5 billion to maintain […]

Larry Littlefield August 11, 2009 - 3:55 pm

Look at the 20-year plan. They have nowhere near enough money to fund ongoing normal replacement for that time. Even if they fund 2010-14 it will be by even more borrowing, and then what?

Labor battle lost, MTA sees more financial pain :: Second Ave. Sagas | A New York City Subway Blog August 12, 2009 - 12:55 am

[…] its preliminary 2010 budget would contain no fare hikes, and on Monday, the authority released a preliminary five-year capital program for 2010-2014. Expansion and sound economics were the key […]


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