NYCT Assesses the Condition of its Assets!


Bob Camella, NYCT Chief, Capital Planning & Budget explains Transit's new Asset Condition Plan

On September 24, Robert Cumella, NYCT Deputy Chief, Capital Planning and Budget presented to the New York City Transit Riders Council on Transit’s new Asset Condition Plan which determines if a NYCT asset[1] is in a State of Good Repair” (SGR).  New York City Transit deserves credit for having done substantial work to redefine the qualifications for an asset being placed in the SGR category.  State of good repair is currently an active part of the national discussion among transit agencies.  In April, the FTA issued its Rail Modernization report to Congress that assessed the level of capital investment required to attain and maintain a SGR for the Nation’s seven largest rail transit operators.  The report found that there is an estimated SGR backlog of roughly $50 billion (2008 dollars) for the seven agencies.  In July, WMATA and the FTA co-hosted the first State of Good Repair Round Table, with representatives from 30 US transit agencies, of which NYC Transit participated.  The highway industry is ahead of transit when it comes to implementing asset management plans a definite disadvantage for transit when it comes to making the case for federal funding.

It is for these reasons that the Transit Riders Council was so pleased to learn about the work that NYC Transit has done over the last two years to bring the term SGR more in line with the actual full condition of the asset and to create an active database that brings in report information as it becomes available.  In the case of stations SGR is now more in line with the experience of the rider.  Mr. Camella described to us how they went about doing this and what it means.

Previously, NYCT considered assets to be in a state of good repair regardless of their current actual condition.  If an asset was determined to be in a state of good repair in 1982 (the start of the very first capital program) or modernized since that year, it was placed on and remained on the “State of Good Repair” list.  This was adequate in the early years of the Capital Programs but became increasingly inaccurate as time progressed.  In 2007 however, NYC Transit President Howard Roberts promptly identified the problem upon his appointment at Transit and articulated his concern to our New York City Transit Riders Council.  President Roberts also spoke about his desire to change the standard in time for the 2010-2014 Capital Program.  Congratulations President Roberts and thank you!!

The new approach now evaluates assets based on three attributes:

  • Asset condition on a 1-4 scale
  • Asset age vs. useful life
  • Asset performance vs. some identifiable standard it must meet.


NYCTRC Council member Mike Sinansky makes a point with Bob Camella and Ben Schmutter of NYCT Capital Planning

The stations asset category was particularly problematic where previously one area of the station may have had capital work performed at the station, other elements may still have been in tremendous disrepair, yet under the old method the station was deemed to be in a state of good repair.  To correct this problem, Mr. Cumella said that stations are now broken into their many components such as stairs, platforms, platform edges, ceilings etc.  This finer grain provides a much better picture of where investments need to be made, and can be made sooner rather than waiting until the year when the entire station would finally be renovated.

The change at NYCT is now influencing the other operating agencies.  The Board Approved Capital Plan now describes the MTA’s mission regarding SGR as having a: “desire to more accurately describe the condition of the asset base and that future asset inventory updates will evaluate the repair needs of the components in establishing the asset’s overall state of good repair.”

[1]New York City Transit puts assets into several categories: Rolling Stock, Power, Tracks, Signaling System, elevators/escalators, buses, structures, communications, bus shops & depots, tunnel lighting, power, high priority ventilation, subway shops, pumps and deep wells.