MTA not spending money wisely


To the editor:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority earlier this year released a schedule of carryover construction projects from the last pair of five-year capital plans. This was prior to the significant growth of the coronavirus outbreak.

This was followed by Gov. Cuomo’s announcement to suspend all non-essential construction projects.

Initiation of these additional MTA capital projects was promised to begin years later in 2020 and 2021. They have pledged to commit $6.5 billion worth of prior planned capital program work in 2020, and $2.3 billion in 2021.

This is supposed to complete the initiation of all capital projects and programs from the $29 billion and $32 billion capital plans. Coordinating management for this $8.8 billion worth of old capital projects with those from the new $51 billion capital plan will be challenging.

All the previously funded work (that is not underway) will have had to be integrated with the ongoing 2020 and future strategy plans for each MTA agency.

This includes NYC Transit bus, subway and Staten Island Railway; Long Island and Metro-North railroads; MTA capital construction, and MTA Bus.

It is necessary in order to support each agency’s respective capital programs. The plans provide a foundation to ensure projects will be initiated and completed on time.

All of this is taking place while the MTA is undergoing a significant internal reorganization, and laying off 2,700 employees. Without a second COVID-19 bailout, the MTA has threatened to lay off thousands more employees.

The reorganization is part of their overly optimistic belief that they can find $2.7 billion in savings. This is the part of the same old playbook promised by previous generations of MTA chairmen, MTA board members, and others. It never actually happens.

These concerns and questions still deserve to be answered in detail. Without reading the fine print, it is difficult to believe that the MTA can successfully manage investing $8.8 billion in old and $51 billion in new funding for a total of $59.8 billion between 2020 and 2024.

In the middle of a multi-billion-dollar financial crisis, why does the MTA continue hiring and keeping on board hundreds of millions worth of outside consultants? Why can’t a significant portion of work assigned to consultants be performed by in-house staff and resources?

Larry Penner

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Larry Penner,