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Could a Manhattan 'transit maintenance district' fund subway repairs?

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Two NYU professors make the case

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo can’t seem to agree on how to pay for desperately needed subway repairs, with the former favoring a millionaire’s tax and the latter opting for congestion pricing. However, two New York University professors think they have a better idea: why not make commercial real estate pay up?

Civil and urban engineering professor Giancarlo Falcocchio along with urban informatics professor Constantine Kontokosta have outlined what they call a “transit maintenance district” in Manhattan where they believe building owners heavily benefit from subway service, reports Crain’s.

Per their analysis, there are more than 664 million square feet of commercial and industrial space within a quarter mile of a subway or rail station below 60th Street in Manhattan. In 2016, the MTA spent roughly $2.6 billion to provide these areas with mass transit services.

“This high-density development could not function without a reliable subway system,” says Falcocchio. “What they are already contributing, maybe it's not enough [relative to] the benefits they're receiving. It's fair that they should contribute to its cost.”

The two professors haven’t determined just how much more commercial landowners should pay, opting to leave that up for debate.

Of course, landlords are already disagreeing with Falcocchio and Kontokosta’s idea. “Where is the equity in imposing this additional burden on a segment of the beneficiaries of mass transit,” asked Real Estate Board of New York President John Banks.