MTA CEO outlines proposed capital program

Written by Douglas John Bowen

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, divulged details of MTA's proposed $29 billion capital program over the next five years, part of a 20-year vision.

Though much of the recommendation continues to emphasize state-of-good-repair needs consistent with previous five-year proposals, many items emphasize superseding 20th century (or even older) infrastructure, such as communications and signaling, with 21st century upgrades and additions.

The rate of capital spending for the five-year span roughly approximates that of previous periods, but Prendergast, addressing New York business leaders last week at a breakfast meeting, says the funding sources must change. “Our Capital Programs have come to rely more and more on borrowing, and we simply don’t want to keep adding to our debt load,” he said. “That’s why I need you to tell your congressional and state representatives that the Program needs an infusion of new money this time.”

Funding needs identified include $18 billion for subway signaling, including expansion of Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) beyond current initial introduction on the L (Canarsie) Line and now being installed on the No. 7 Line. Countdown clocks, currently limited to former IRT subway lines, would be expanded systemwide. A contactless fare payment system would replace current MetroCard use.

Not yet identified is any Phase 2 work of the now nearly real Second Avenue Subway north of 96th Street. Other potential projects anticipated by many in any five-year plan include Penn Station Access for Metro-North trains.

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