The MTA is going the wrong way.
MTA officials have fallen seriously behind on shoring up New York’s aging transit infrastructure and don’t have a plan to address the increased danger posed by storms amid climate change, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said Thursday.
The MTA in 2013 said it needed to spend nearly $19 billion on new subway cars, buses, signals and on route maintenance through 2024, but DiNapoli’s office found the authority is way behind on those objectives.
Less than half of the $7.7 billion of projects crafted in response to Hurricane Sandy have been completed nine years after the storm, his office said.
The MTA “needs to reassess and focus its priorities to get money where it is most needed to restore the system and bring riders back,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Protecting against the growing threat of climate change must also be among its top priorities because climate change threatens all aspects of our regional transit system.”
In the eight years since the MTA’s 2013 “twenty-year needs assessment,” officials spent a mere $700,000 on new subway cars, $1.6 billion on new buses and $900 million on signal upgrades.
Another $1.5 billion worth of subway cars have been ordered, the report said, but the vehicles are not expected until 2025 in part due to COVID-induced supply issues.
More significantly, officials have spent just 14 percent of the $1.7 billion needed to bring tunnels, pump rooms, wells and ventilation plants in order, the comptroller’s office said. Seventeen of the MTA’s 237 pump rooms are not in what the authority calls “state of good repair.”
Transit leaders hope to address the other unmet and unfunded needs in the five-year capital program, but it has been delayed 18 months due to COVID. Acting MTA CEO Janno Lieber last week said the goal is to “commit” all the funds by 2026.
“They keep beating the drum that they have enough money. I think that’s the wrong message to send, because there’s a lot of work to do,” said Lisa Daglian of the MTA’s permanent citizens advisory committee. “It’s fair to say that the MTA has significant resiliency needs that it is not yet addressing. It’s only going to get worse.”
The MTA did not immediately return a request for comment.