City Council Oversight: City and MTA Resiliency Efforts and Storm Preparation-September 14, 2021


Good day, I am Lisa Daglian, Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, PCAC. Thank you for this opportunity to testify today.

These last few weeks have been a wake-up call. More must be done to protect the transit system that is the lifeblood of our region from Mother Nature.

The storms – Henri, Ida and whatever comes next – are a clear indication that new solutions must be found. The fact that service was restored as quickly as it was, is a testament to the hard work of everyone at the MTA. Riders counted on them, and they delivered. Thank you. Thank you also to the first responders and city and state agencies and utilities that responded quickly and in force to get the region back on the move.

The storms highlighted the fragile ecosystem in which we live. Subways aren’t submarines, but people ride in a hole in the ground – and that’s the level water seeks. We heard on Monday that the MTA pumped 75 million gallons of water out of the subways after Ida. That’s staggering! It’s a miracle we didn’t have loss of life underground. It’s critical that the MTA, city and state accelerate their “lessons learned” reviews – which are already underway at the MTA – and take a hard look at third party causes of water infiltration, such as the manhole that seemingly caused the 28th Street gusher. It is essential that immediate steps be taken to harden infrastructure like street drains, subway pumps, sewers – and all of the systems that we need to rely on to handle a deluge like we saw most recently during Ida, but that we can expect with increasing regularity.

The MTA – and the city – must also look at their capital programs in the context of resiliency and reprioritize their projects as necessary. A task force should be formed to look at joint priority projects and how to move them forward expeditiously.

This will all take money. That’s why it’s so critical that funding come to the MTA from federal, state and local sources, including the city’s commitment to the MTA’s FY2020-2024 capital plan, and highlights more than ever the importance of Central Business District Tolling, a/k/a congestion pricing. We will be speaking in support of congestion pricing at upcoming public meetings and urge you all to support it and do so as well.

Thank you.

Download Here: 9.14.2021 LDaglian City Council Oversight Testimony