City Limits, the online magazine focusing on NYC civic life, has published the final installment of its three-part series focusing on the MTA’s financial problems. Today’s piece focuses on the MTA’s debt burden brought about by its massive five-year capital plans. For those familiar with the MTA’s economic picture, Jake Mooney’s piece treads familiar ground, but it does an excellent job exploring the origins of the MTA’s debt.
Mooney summarizes why debt payments will reach $2.5 billion in 2014 and how Albany and City Hall are to blame: “While federal government support for capital projects has remained strong, city and state contributions over the years have dwindled. To make up the difference, the authority has increasingly borrowed money by issuing bonds, and that borrowing has taken a toll. The MTA’s outstanding debt, which was $13 billion in 2000, had reached $31 billion by this past July.”
As Mooney notes, without congestion pricing or bridge tolls — two plans that would generate revenue while encouraging more efficient travel — the system is bound to be mired in financial troubles for the foreseeable future. “They’re really just kicking the can down the road,” John Petro of the Drum Major Institute said to City Limits. “It’s going to mean more pain for riders. All the tinkering we do and belt-tightening is not really going to address the problem. Hopefully voters will realize that the source of their grief is not this nameless, faceless authority, but the people that they vote for.” [City Limits]