Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.
search  
 
Subscribe   Subscribe   MI on Facebook Find us on Twitter Find us on Instagram      
 
 
   
 
     
 

New York Post

 

The Subway's Future

October 21, 2009

By Nicole Gelinas

NEW Metropolitan Trans portation Authority chief Jay Walder wants to focus the MTA’s infrastructure-investment program on getting some stuff done that people can see -- and soon.

Good. But Walder must make sure that Albany doesn’t use his plans as an excuse to slash spending on the harder, long-term projects, many of which should’ve been done years ago.

Walder said yesterday that while New Yorkers want “more from our system,” we need to “plan on what we should accomplish.” He added that “this is not a time for grand plans.”

It seems that he’ll emphasize straightforward, cheaper stuff -- relatively speaking -- above such “megaprojects” as the Second Avenue subway. He wants to work with the city and Albany to strictly enforce bus lanes, for example, and to implement tap-card technology for faster boarding, like they have in London and Boston.

These are sound ideas -- and Walder notes that one way for the MTA to win the public’s trust is to show results. But New York needs immediate results and complex megaprojects, too. Much of the tens of billions of dollars’ worth of spending we’ve done in the last 25 years hasn’t been investment in new subway capacity or routes; it’s just getting back to where we were 40 years ago, when we stopped keeping up the subways and buses.

Now that we’ve done much -- though not all -- of that work, we need to pick up where we left off. The downturn is no excuse; successful companies keep investing through any downturn.

We’ve got to finish the first phase of the Second Avenue subway, for example, but that’s not sufficient. Phase One is only three stations, and we won’t get a return on our investment until we complete it Downtown. We should take advantage of the downturn to finish the extension of the No. 7 train westward, creating an environment for more private-sector investment on the far West Side and easing the ferry commute to New Jersey.

We’ve already lost ground with some pound-foolish cutbacks. As the Citizens Budget Commission notes in a new report, design costs on the No. 7 extension have doubled because the city and state decided to drop one station -- a short-term decision we’ll pay for later. Cutting a track out of the 72nd Street station for the Second Avenue subway added delay, too.

Surely, we can set better priorities. The CBC notes that eight years after 9/11, Albany and the MTA still have no idea what the building at the Fulton Street Transit Center will look like. The MTA should scale back there in favor of underground work elsewhere.

And we can save money.

The MTA says it will soon let the public track construction projects from start to finish online. It should make sure to include the names and bids of every contractor who bids on a project and their key employees, plus those of any subcontractors. The MTA should also report its project communications with elected officials, so the public can learn how much it’s succumbing to pressure to fund pols’ pet projects.

Plus, there’s labor savings. Walder said yesterday that the MTA has to implement “modern work practices.” The most important thing he’s done so far for the capital budget is pursue the MTA’s lawsuit to overturn $300 million raises for the Transport Workers Union. That money can go toward capital spending.

Still, Walder should speak up clearly about finishing the important megaprojects we’ve started. Just how “grand,” really, is the Second Avenue Subway? We built dozens starting a century ago.

Otherwise, New York’s transit infrastructure could fall victim to Albany’s other priorities. The draft capital plan for the next five years -- prepared before Walder arrived -- calls for $28 billion in commitments, but it’s already facing a $10 billion deficit. New York will spend more than this on Medicaid in a single year -- and it would certainly like more for the health-care lobby. The pols have always been willing to take away money from complex infrastructure, where no one sees results for years, to feed the louder special interests.

While London-style bus service would be great, it’s not a replacement for 21st-century subways, even if they take longer.

Original Source: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/the_subway_future_nTrQBjDwdyjZXONuQRyOiJ

 

 
PRINTER FRIENDLY
 
LATEST FROM OUR SCHOLARS

The Real Challenge When Police Use Lethal Force
Stephen Eide, 12-15-14

Why Cops Need To Sweat The ‘Small Stuff’
Nicole Gelinas, 12-08-14

A Bill To Loosen Police Discipline
E. J. McMahon, 12-08-14

More Subsidies For Big Wind
Robert Bryce, 12-08-14

Bill Slanders His Cops
Heather Mac Donald, 12-07-14

What The Numbers Say On Police Use Of Force
Steven Malanga, 12-04-14

Detroit's Bankruptcy and Its Painful Reforms
Stephen Eide, 12-04-14

The EPA Pours On The Pain With New Ozone Regulations
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, 12-03-14

 
 
 

The Manhattan Institute, a 501(c)(3), is a think tank whose mission is to develop and disseminate new ideas
that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility.

Copyright © 2014 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Inc. All rights reserved.

52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017
phone (212) 599-7000 / fax (212) 599-3494