Breaking It Down

MTA will pay for big new projects instead of subways that run on time

City Terrain East Transportation
When its complete in 2022, the $410 billion East Side Access project will bring the LIRR to Manhattan's east side. Here, workers take samples from Track A. (MTA Capital Construction Mega Projects / Flickr)
When its complete in 2022, the $410 billion East Side Access project will bring the LIRR to Manhattan's east side. Here, workers take samples from Track A. (MTA Capital Construction Mega Projects / Flickr)

The board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has approved a capital plan that gives money to roads and bridges but not to enhancing service on New York City’s beleaguered subways.

Out of a five-year, $32.5 billion capital plan, the board gave $3 billion in extra funding to projects that Governor Andrew Cuomo supports, including $1.5 billion for a new LIRR track, $400 million for cashless tolling for bridges and tunnels, and $700 million for phase two of the Second Avenue Subway. Cuomo is in charge of the authority and appoints six of its 14 members, more than any other entity. (In a quirk of home rule, the MTA, a state agency, oversees the subway, which serves New York City only.)

Although the new plan adds more funding for these expansion projects, subway spending remained almost flat, the New York Times reported. As almost any commuter could confirm anecdotally, there are more straphangers than ever, with trips—especially during rush hour—marred by frequent delays.

Part of the problem is that the MTA relies on an outdated signal system to move cars through the tubes. This new capital plan doesn’t provide additional funding for a system that would allow trains to run more efficiently, even with the occasional sick passenger.

“Investing in the M.T.A. is a good thing, but these changes won’t address riders’ core concern of the increase in crowding, breakdowns and delays,” John Raskin, executive director of passenger advocacy group the Riders Alliance, told the paper.

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