Weekly Newsletter

06 October 2023

Weekly Newsletter

06 October 2023

New York MTA criticised for “lack of detail” by watchdog

The public transport authority said that the needs assessment told the whole story but was criticised for not providing information on the cost of work needed to improve.

Noah Bovenizer October 05 2023

New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has published its 20-year needs assessment (TYNA) outlining its vision for the improvement of the city’s public transport system to criticism over its lack of detail on the cost of investments to repair and rebuild infrastructure. 

The public benefit corporation described its latest assessment as the “most rigorous and transparent” of its history due to its comprehensive breakdown of the network’s needs, which includes NYC’s subway system, that was not tied to a budget target. 

MTA’s Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said: “Instead of matching needs to some pre-approved budget, this detailed evaluation tells the whole story, laying bare the urgent need for renewal and improvement of the system’s existing infrastructure and to prepare for climate change.”

However, despite the MTA’s celebration of the fact that its TYNA was not tied to a budget, the Citizens Budget Commission (CBC), a non-profit organisation that looks at finances and services in the state of New York, said that the lack of details around funding meant that the public and politicians were not able to start discussions on moving forward with critical repairs. 

CBC President Andrew S. Rein said: “Simply put, despite the substantial report and detailed appendices, New Yorkers still do not know if it will cost $20bn, $70bn, or some other amount over the next five years to start to bring the system to a state of good repair so that deterioration does not cause major service problems and siphon operating funds for increased maintenance. 

“We urge the MTA to develop and publish a TYNA addendum that includes robust cost and benefit estimates for rebuilding and renewing the transit system.” 

However, the CBC did say that the latest assessment was an improvement over previous TYNAs in some ways due to it showing the MTA’s commitment to understanding the condition of its nearly six million assets. 

Some of the key areas of improvement highlighted by the assessment included the replacement of ageing substations and the installation of new CBTC signalling systems for the city’s rail services, as well as the structural rehabilitation or reconstruction of a number of tunnels on both the Long Island and Metro-North railroads. 

The TYNA also highlighted the need for increased investment in accessibility projects to ensure that 90% of subway rides occur at fully ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-compliant stations by 2045.

In addition to the MTA’s highlight of repairs and improvements that need to be made, the TYNA also included an evaluation of 25 potential future projects to expand its system for the first time, such as a Second Avenue Subway South to Houston.

Details of the assessment come only a few months after the MTA released its five-year budget expectations which showed a balanced budget across the period for the first time in over two decades. However, the CBC had also warned that the authority could reach a deficit of $900m in 2029.

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