PCAC Statement – September 23, 2009 – Capital Program

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Statement of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA
Before the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board
September 23, 2009

I am William Henderson, Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA. The PCAC serves as the umbrella organization for three Councils representing the interests of public transportation users: the Long Island Rail Road Commuter’s Council, the Metro-North Rail Road Commuters Council, and the New York City Transit Riders Council.

We have reviewed the proposed MTA 2010-2014 Capital Program and have had extensive discussions with MTA staff on its content. We are pleased that many of the comments and suggestions that we have made are being incorporated into the document through changes such as reworking the discussion of State of Good Repair and expanding the Capital Program’s treatment of the LIRR’s Transit Oriented Development and station area planning efforts. We believe that these changes will clarify and strengthen the document and provide for a closer relationship between the MTA and the communities that it serves.

In our analysis of the operating agencies’ investment plans, which we discussed in the public speaking sessions of this Board’s committees, we identified promising elements, such as NYC Transit’s station renewal strategy, the movement toward smart card fare technology across NYC Transit and the commuter railroads, and Metro-North’s progress toward modernizing the Harmon shops, but we also highlighted several deficiencies. For one, we believe that the omission of the LIRR Main Line third track is a serious shortcoming, and we note that many of the technological improvements proposed, such as bus locator systems and real-time subway information, are already implemented in other public transportation systems. We also continue to be concerned about the modest funding proposed for dealing with an unacceptably unreliable LIRR diesel fleet.

The Capital Program’s major deficiency, however, is a lack of available resources for the MTA and its operating agencies to address the critical mobility needs of this region. Even at the funding levels that have been proposed, this Capital Program faces a funding shortfall of almost $10 Billion dollars. The funding levels in the Capital Program, however, fail to meet the needs that have been identified in the MTA’s Twenty Year Needs Assessment, providing for just over two-thirds of the needs that have been identified in the Needs Assessment for the period 2010-2014.

For the future of our region, we must continue to make the case for adequate funding for investments in our transportation infrastructure at the Federal, State, and local levels. The PCAC stands ready to make this case and calls upon this Board to work with us in this effort.

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