By Larry Penner
When it comes to public transportation, (“The Transit Dance,” March 25 issue), New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent speech on his proposed $82.1 billion 2016-2017 fiscal year budget beginning on July 1, sounded great but provided little substance. He failed to give any specifics of how he will come up with $2.5 billion promised to meet the shortfall in the proposed $28 billion 2015-2019 MTA Five Year Capital Plan. The mayor is kicking the can down the road. He hasn’t given any specific information on how the MTA and New York City will come up with funding to implement any of the following transportation projects advocated by many other elected officials, constituents and transit advocates.
The list includes, but is not limited to, the following projects or proposals. Where does de Blasio stand on these ideas? Many City Council members are supporting the Commuter Rail Fare Equalization Proposal. This would allow NYC residents to pay the same $2.75 fare on the Long Island Rail Road or Metro North Rail Road as riding the subway and provide a free transfer to the subway. How will the city provide the MTA with $200 million to cover the cost?
$6 billion will be needed to construct Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway. What about finding $500 million to build the new No. 7 subway station at 10th Avenue and 41st Street? This was dropped from the original scope of work for the Hudson Yards extension as a means to keep the project within a baseline $2.1 billon budget. In the end, the cost was $2.4 billion without this station.
The LaGuardia Airport Train to the Plane baseline budget of $450 million will require up to an additional $550 million in the years to come, bringing the final cost close to $1 billion.
The $3 billion new Penn Station will end up needing far more than $300 million in combined assistance from the MTA, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak, along with Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Does anyone really believe that potential developers will spend $2.7 billion of their own funding to pay for this?
Queens residents will be looking for $200 million toward the $400 million Woodhaven Boulevard Select Bus Service. These dollars may be necessary if NYCDOT is unable to secure $200 million in U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration New Starts funding.
Others will continue to lobby for $100 million to construct light rail between Glendale and Long Island City on the old Montauk LIRR branch;
A full $1 billion for restoration of LIRR service on the old Rockaway LIRR branch; $2 billion for the Triboro X Subway Express (a new subway line connecting the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn); $100 million for the Main Street Flushing Intermodal Bus Terminal; $40 million to reopen the Woodhaven Boulevard Atlantic Branch LIRR Station; and, most recently, $2.5 billion for the Brooklyn-Queens Waterfront Street Car Connector, which would connect various neighborhoods along the waterfront from Sunset Park, Brooklyn to Astoria.
Where does de Blasio think the MTA will find the cash for all these projects? The Federal Transit Administration and the State may be possible funding sources for some of these projects, but clearly the city will have to contribute some significant funding if many of these projects are to ever see the light of day.