Amidst all the talk of budget deficits & probable service cuts, one huge issue is overlooked by the general public. What issue might that be? The next 5 year “Capital Plan” which is the separate budget that pays for things such as construction, maintenance, & new equipment. As of right now, the huge operating budget deficit is not the only issue on the MTA’s plate as they don’t know how they will fund the next 5 year “Capital Plan”. William Neuman of the New York Times delves into this topic in a report which will appear in tomorrow’s print edition:
Even as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority seeks to overcome a $1.2 billon shortfall with fare increases and service cuts, an even weightier problem looms: The authority is uncertain how it will pay for a five-year capital spending plan that could cost as much as $30 billion.
The fare increases and cutbacks are meant to keep the system running next year. The capital plan is meant to keep it running for years beyond that through the purchase of new equipment, maintenance of tracks and renovation of stations.
“The need for investment in the system is gargantuan,” said Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky, a Democrat from Westchester County who is chairman of a committee that oversees the authority. “Twenty-five years from now what we do on the capital plan will resonate much more loudly than what the debate is going to be about fare increases.”
The authority has two budgets.
One is the operating budget, which pays for things like fuel for buses, electrical power for subway trains and the salaries of the people who operate them. (On Thursday the authority will propose a 23 percent increase in fare and toll revenues and deep cuts in subway, bus and commuter rail service to balance its operating budget for next year.)
The other is the capital budget, which typically is renewed every five years and pays for major items like new trains and buses and for projects, like replacing subway tracks, that keep the system in good repair. It also pays for expansion projects like the Second Avenue subway.
The current capital plan expires at the end of next year, and the authority must submit a new five-year plan to the state for approval even as it seeks additional money to plug its operating deficit. Officials have estimated that the capital plan could cost $25 billion to $30 billion, much of which would be financed through bonds that the authority would repay over many years.
Both budgets are important, but Mr. Brodsky and others worry that the long-term needs will be lost in the tumult of settling the more immediate need.
Click here for the complete report.
As usual look who is in the forefront expressing his views on what needs to be done, none other than Westchester County Assemblyman Richard Brodsky. It never fails that he will throw in his two cents when it comes time for the MTA to potentially raise fares. I used to side with this guy for saying what needed to be said but my opinion on him as soured as regular readers know. All this man seems to do is provide lip service & no results in terms of helping the MTA get the funding it deserves & is quite frankly owed to them by our elected offcials.
All the talk of potential service cuts & fare hikes aside, the “Capital Plan” must be funded & there is no if, and, or buts about it. The plan is vital to keep our infrastructure sound & running for the long term & even under the current financial climate, its needs must be met one way or another. What needs to happen is for our elected officials to finally (excuse the language) wake the fuck up & do what needs to be done to get the MTA the funding it needs.
One way or another the money has to come or our system will fall apart. Instead of trying to nickle & dime drivers & riders, find the money from other sources such as the tons that gets wasted yearly on various favors & programs that benefit next to nobody. The time for being diplomatic about this is over & heads need to roll if the MTA once again gets shafted in the funds department. When will enough be enough?
xoxo Transit Blogger