Tuesday, June 24, 2008

MTA Cuts Projects As Revenues Slow

In a series of public meetings of authority board committees, officials said the authority would be forced to cut projects valued at $2.7 billion from its 2005-9 capital spending program, largely because of soaring costs on construction projects already under way.

The projects being cut include 19 subway station renovations and important projects for the modernization of subway signals and repair facilities. The authority’s chief executive, Elliot G. Sander, said those projects were expected to be included in the authority’s next five-year spending plan, which begins in 2010. But he acknowledged that the authority did not yet know how it would find the financing for that plan.
Forget about the claims of postponing such capital projects. The MTA is effectively killing those projects because they will never be able to find the money to make them work.

Never mind that the kind of work that is being "deferred" is for essential capital improvements such as installation of ventilation systems to deal with fires in the subway systems, or improved signal systems that allow the MTA to run more trains more efficiently. Both of those deferrals directly affect the safety and efficiency of the subway system, which handles more than a billion passengers every year and has been growing at a steady clip. It is that growth that is imperiled with the capital construction cuts because the system simply lacks capacity in many areas to handle additional passengers.

The MTA has already chosen not to roll out a series of minor service improvements because of revenue issues.

Each time the MTA delays or defers major capital construction projects, it only adds to the bill for such work when it finally does get done. It's unconscionable for the MTA to continue deferring and delaying badly needed work and will ultimately undermine the MTA's ability to serve the public.

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