Editor’s note: Nicole Gelinas responds to the MTA’s proposed $51.5 billion capital plan.
It is unreservedly good news that Gov. Cuomo is committing to signal modernization as well as making stations accessible. If Cuomo executes this right, it will be his long-term legacy. It is also perfectly reasonable to ask the city to contribute $3 billion in general taxpayer dollars. It is still a big “if” in terms of construction costs and rightly detailed priorities, but, for now, it is a good day for transit and thus for the city’s future.
One big question that remains unanswered is: what does the MTA’s eventual settlement with its labor unions look like? The MTA has asked for cost savings in the current round of agreements, but the major union, the Transport Workers, has so far resisted. Labor savings are important for two reasons: first, congestion pricing will only cover about half of this capital plan, meaning the MTA still needs revenue for capital; and second, the MTA still faces massive operating deficits over the next few years, and making all of these capital investments will not matter as much if the MTA still has to cut back on service.