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MTA's $29B Capital Plan Cuts Second Ave Subway Funds in Half

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After many fits, starts, and setbacks, the MTA's board finally approved a $29 billion capital plan that provides funding to New York City's transit system for 2015–2019. The approved plan is $3 billion lighter than the original proposal that was released in 2014, a reduction that will mostly be made through "better oversight on construction projects, change in work rules and a streamlined contracting process," according to MTA officials (h/t Daily News). But there are some other big cuts in the plan, most notably to the Second Avenue Subway, the funding for which was slashed nearly in half to $535 million.

In a press release, MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast said, "Thanks to the leadership of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the hard work of our dedicated MTA staff, this revised Capital Program will reduce costs and deliver projects more efficiently without cutting any projects or the benefits they will bring to our customers." That doesn't quite get at the bickering that led to the plan's approval, particularly between Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, who publicly fought over how much money the city and state would contribute. That was ultimately resolved as well: In addition to the MTA's $11.8 billion commitment and $6 billion in federal funds, Cuomo pledged $8.3 billion from New York State, and De Blasio offered $2.5 billion from New York City—a huge increase over its original commitment of $657 million, according to the New York Times.

But even with those commitments, one thing transit advocates had feared—that funding for the perennially beleaguered Second Avenue Subway would be cut—has come to pass, with only $535 million committed to the project. As Second Avenue Sagas' Ben Kabak points out, this means that "the MTA no longer expects to start the actual construction work on Harlem-bound part of the Second Ave. Subway until the 2020-2024 capital plan comes due." According to the MTA, "The balance of the work necessary for operation will be funded in future capital programs." Suuuuure.

Other projects that will be funded by this plan include the expansion of the Select Bus Service program; improvement of communication systems in subway stations; the introduction of "contactless" payment, which would in theory make buying subway fares easier; and the implementation of ADA-related improvements, including at the Times Square shuttle and the First Avenue L station. The shuttle improvement is also part of a $192 "station structural reconfiguration" allocation, which will include building a connection between stations on the L and 3 trains in East New York. And one of Mayor de Blasio's sticking points—a study looking at the extension of the Utica Avenue line—is in there, too.

If you're so inclined, the full capital plan is available here.
· MTA Capital Program 2015-2019 [Official]
· MTA approves $29B plan to repair and upgrade transit service [NYDN]
· M.T.A. Approves Budget, but Deal Cuts 2nd Ave. Line Funding [NYT]
· MTA Board approves slimmer 2015-2019 Capital Program with less money for 2nd Ave. Subway [Second Ave Sagas]