Looks like Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York legislature might have just brokered a deal that would fund the remainder of the MTA’s five-year capital plan. But straphanger advocates say that Albany’s agreement will make riders foot the bill for transit improvements.
Cuomo and legislators OKd an accord on Sunday to provide money for the next three years of the improvement program — which would cover the cost of projects like the Second Avenue subway and green bus programs, according to the Daily News.
Some financial intricacies reported by the News and The Associated Press suggest that a big chunk of this $13.1 billion deal would be funded by debt — prompting protest from commuter allies such as Transportation Alternatives.
Check it out: Albany agreed to give the MTA $770 million over the next three years, and increase the bond cap by $7 billion. This means the borrowing limit — how much the MTA can take out in loans — will balloon from some $34 billion to $41 billion.
The setup originally stems from the 2009 agreement which created the plan, but only established funding for the first two years. At the time, the state allotted some $9.1 billion to capital improvement’s coffers, but Albany gutted $1.6 billion from its budget last year.
Sources covering the agreement indicate that it hasn’t been formally announced. But the MTA seems pretty happy with the developments, saying in a statement:
“The MTA is grateful for Governor Cuomo’s leadership and commitment in recognizing the critical importance of funding mass transit, and in particular fully funding our current Capital Program. The MTA Capital Program not only provides for continued investment in our network, but also creates tens of thousands of jobs and generates economic activity across the entire state. With this funding, the MTA will continue to enhance our riders’ experience by investing in the future of our transportation network, as well as bringing our assets up to a state of good repair.”
Transportation Alternatives, however, says that the push for debt funding would require that commuters pay for construction projects. In the group’s opinion, funding without a new source of revenue isn’t a sustainable plan of action.
TA’s Deputy Director Noah Budnick tells Runnin’ Scared: “This is just going to put tremendous pressure on riders, and the Governor is putting pressure on the MTA to raise the fare.”
Runnin’ Scared reached out to the MTA and Cuomo’s office to see whether debt funding could prompt more increases in addition to this. We’ll update when we hear back.