Fed­eral Sup­port for the MTA

The Jewish Voice - - EDITORIAL -

Dear Editor:

While New York City Mayor Bill de Bla­sio and New York State Gov­er­nor An­drew Cuomo con­tinue to fight over who is re­spon­si­ble for man­age­ment of the Metropoli­tan Trans­porta­tion Au­thor­ity and how much each should con­trib­ute for fund­ing the cur­rent $32 bil­lion 2015 - 2019 Five Year Cap­i­tal Plan, Wash­ing­ton con­tin­ues to be a re­li­able fund­ing part­ner.

Fed­eral sup­port for trans­porta­tion has re­mained con­sis­tent and grow­ing over past decades. When crises oc­curred, be it 9-11 in 2001 or Hur­ri­cane Sandy in 2012 Wash­ing­ton was there for us. Ad­di­tional bil­lions in as­sis­tance above and be­yond yearly for­mula al­lo­ca­tions from the U.S. De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion Fed­eral Tran­sit Ad­min­is­tra­tion was pro­vided. In 2009, the Amer­i­can Re­cov­ery and Rein­vest­ment Act pro­vided bil­lions more.

Most fed­eral trans­porta­tion grants re­quire a 20 per­cent hard-cash lo­cal share. In most cases, the Fed­eral Tran­sit Ad­min­is­tra­tion ac­cepted toll cred­its in­stead of hard cash for the lo­cal share. This saved the MTA over $1 bil­lion in the pre­vi­ous 2010-2014 five-year cap­i­tal pro­gram. The same will be true with the 2015-2019 fiveyear cap­i­tal pro­gram.

Wash­ing­ton has made avail­able over $1.3 bil­lion in 2017 Fed­eral Tran­sit Ad­min­is­tra­tion for­mula fund­ing for the MTA which helps pays for 25 per­cent of its cap­i­tal pro­gram. This in­cludes $23 mil­lion in Buses and Bus Fa­cil­i­ties; $699 mil­lion in State of Good Re­pair and $647 mil­lion in Ur­ban­ized Area fed­eral fund­ing. There are other op­por­tu­ni­ties for up to sev­eral hun­dred mil­lion more in dis­cre­tionary com­pet­i­tive fed­eral grants.

The MTA can also take ad­van­tage of Fed­eral Tran­sit Ad­min­is­tra­tion pre-award au­thor­ity prior to grant ap­proval. Use of Pre-award Au­thor­ity af­fords the MTA an op­por­tu­nity to start projects months ear­lier and in­cur costs for re­im­burse­ment at a later date af­ter grant ap­proval and obli­ga­tion of fund­ing. The MTA cur­rently man­ages an ac­tive port­fo­lio of fed­er­ally funded cap­i­tal im­prove­ment projects and pro­grams in open grants worth over $12 bil­lion in di­rect Fed­eral Tran­sit Ad­min­is­tra­tion fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance.

In­stead of com­plain­ing, Mayor Bill de Bla­sio should come up with the bal­ance of $2.5 bil­lion the City still owes to­ward fully fund­ing the $32 bil­lion MTA 2015 - 2019 Five Year Cap­i­tal Pro­gram and pro­vide sev­eral bil­lion more. City Hall should match Al­bany dol­lar for dol­lar in any in­creased as­sis­tance.

Gov­er­nor An­drew Cuomo should de­liver the out­stand­ing bal­ance $5.8 bil­lion bal­ance to­ward his orig­i­nal $8.3 bil­lion pledge plus his most re­cent new com­mit­ment of an ad­di­tional $1 bil­lion. MTA can't af­ford to wait un­til 2018 or 2019 for both de Bla­sio and Cuomo to make good on their re­spec­tive promised fi­nan­cial com­mit­ments. Nei­ther can tran­sit rid­ers and tax­pay­ers who are look­ing for ac­count­abil­ity, ef­fi­cient and timely com­ple­tion for both cap­i­tal projects and rou­tine main­te­nance to as­sure more re­li­able and safe on time ser­vice.

Sin­cerely, Larry Pen­ner Great Neck

(Larry Pen­ner is a trans­porta­tion his­to­rian and ad­vo­cate who worked 31 years for the US De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion Fed­eral Tran­sit Ad­min­is­tra­tion Re­gion 2 NY Of­fice).

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