MTA encourages New York City mayor to invest in program

Thomas Prendergast, the chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), recently sent Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City a letter encouraging the city to invest in a capital program.

“Given the state’s clear commitment and the need for the MTA to meet unprecedented challenges, we urge the city to stand up for our customers and your constituents by committing to provide $3.2 billion in support for the Capital Program,” Prendergast said in his letter. “We believe our proposal is fair and appropriate.

“As you know, the MTA’s assets total $1 trillion, with 80 percent — some $800 billion — dedicated to New York City Transit and directly benefiting New York City to a far greater degree than other parts of the MTA service area,” the letter said. “These NYCT assets include some of those most expensive to maintain, including tunnels, 468 stations and more than 700 miles of track providing both local and express service for the same fare — key reasons why New York City is a global city comparable to no other.

“As to the assertion that the state runs the MTA and the city’s representation is not adequate, I should note that of the 17 voting members of the MTA Board, four are designated by the mayor and six by the governor,” the letter said. “When the city faced its financial crisis and lacked the resources to restore a crumbling system, the MTA brought it back from the brink of collapse, restoring ridership and rebuilding it into one of the best and most extensive public transit systems in the world. And while the city fiscal crisis that necessitated the State provide the majority of the MTA’s public funding has long passed, we have never recalculated the responsibility for financing an authority that principally serves the city. Today, the city has greater surplus funds than the state.

“Furthermore, New York City residents receive direct benefits from the MTA that other counties in the service district do not, including MTA para-transit services, student fares and senior fare discounts—and not without significant cost to the MTA,” the letter said. “The city subsidizes $129 million of the cost of paratransit services, leaving the MTA to cover the remaining $270 million deficit. The City’s reimbursement of the discounted school fare program is $45 million, a small fraction of the $240 million total annual cost of that service. (The state and MTA pick up the remaining $195 million.) The city’s subsidy of the half-fare that the MTA provides to the city’s seniors has remained flat at $13.8 million since 1978, leaving the MTA to fund the remaining $95 million.”

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