With the MTA Board meetings this morning came a flurry of news. I’ll round it up here.
Albany approves MTA Capital funding plan
While the details of the backroom deals have yet to be released, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has persuaded Republican State Senators to approve the MTA funding requests in his New York state budget. Originally, Dean Skelos and his GOP caucus in the State Senate had stripped all MTA funding from the budget in a show of faux-concern over MTA debt levels. But now, the MTA bond cap will jump by $7 billion, and the state will provide $770 million in new funds.
This move also assuages MTA fears that the feds would rescind favorable funding deals as well, and the authority was pleased with the deal. “The MTA is grateful for Governor Cuomo’s leadership and commitment in recognizing the critical importance of funding mass transit, and in particular fully funding our current Capital Program,” the agency said in a statement. “The MTA Capital Program not only provides for continued investment in our network, but also creates tens of thousands of jobs and generates economic activity across the entire state. With this funding, the MTA will continue to enhance our riders’ experience by investing in the future of our transportation network, as well as bringing our assets up to a state of good repair.”
I’ll have more on the capital plan later, but I do wonder what carrot Cuomo dangled for the Senate to secure these funds.
BusTime heading to 34th St.
Hot on the heels of a successful Staten Island adaptation, the MTA’s BusTime program is making its debut in Manhattan. The in-house option will replace Clever Devices’ expensive pilot in place along 34th St. effective April 8, 2012.
“We’re bringing Bus Time to 34th Street to replace the original pilot developed by technology firm Clever Devices,” Darryl Irick, President of MTA Bus and Senior Vice President NYC Transit’s Department of Buses, said. “However, unlike the previous pilot, the new system was developed in-house by the MTA at a fraction of the cost and allows us to expand Bus Time to more routes more quickly.”
The only drawback to the technology which allows riders with any phone to access bus location information concerns countdown clocks. When the Clever Devices’ system is shut off, the countdown clocks in place at bus shelters along the M34 and M34A SBS routes will no longer be in use.
Over 1100 buses to get security cameras
In an effort to better protect bus drivers, Transit announced today that it is exercising an option for the purchase and installation of cameras for 1150 buses in the fleet. The original contract with UTC Fire and Security called for installation of cameras in 426 buses, and the current option will include hardware and software for monitoring in 12 additional depots. Per Transit, the surveillance system features cameras for the interiors of 40- and 60-foot buses.
“Video surveillance is a vital element of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s ongoing effort to maintain a transit network that is as safe and secure as possible,” NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast said in a statement. “Bus cameras offer a visible crime deterrent, while also providing a state-of-the-art electronic tool that will aid in the investigation and prosecution of criminal activity aboard the vehicle.”