M.T.A. Spending Plan Restores Funding for 2nd Ave. Subway

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board approved a new version of its long-delayed capital plan on Wednesday, allocating money for system upgrades and expansion projects and restoring funding for the next phase of the Second Avenue subway line.

The $29.5 billion spending plan calls for hundreds of new train cars and buses and a new fare-payment system to replace the MetroCard. With ridership booming on New York City’s aging subway system, the authority also devoted funding for station improvements and updated signal systems to allow more trains to operate.

The agency promised $1 billion for plans to extend the Second Avenue subway to East Harlem — about $500 million more than an earlier proposal set aside. About $2.5 billion would be devoted to the East Side Access project, which would connect the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal.

Thomas F. Prendergast, the authority’s chairman, said he was confident that a state review board would approve the revised proposal in the next month. The capital plan will modernize the region’s vast transportation network and make sure that it is safe and reliable, he said.

“This is a monumental win for the people of New York,” Mr. Prendergast said at a board meeting in Lower Manhattan.

But even as board members praised the proposal, they questioned how the state and city would pay their share. Last year, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, both Democrats, reached a funding deal only after months of quarreling over whether the city should pay more.

The state agreed to pay $8.3 billion toward the capital plan over five years, and the city agreed to pay $2.5 billion over the same period. The rest is expected to be paid for by the federal government and other sources.

State and city officials have not specified where most of their funding will come from. Transit advocates have repeatedly criticized Mr. Cuomo, arguing that his commitment amounted to an I.O.U. for the state-run agency.

On Wednesday, Lawrence S. Schwartz, a board member and a former top aide to the governor, urged the board not to question Mr. Cuomo’s promise.

“The money will be there,” Mr. Schwartz said.

The plan had been delayed in recent months by budget negotiations in Albany, with Republicans in the State Senate pushing for extra money for roads and bridges and other legislators opposing cuts for the Second Avenue subway.

The first phase of the Second Avenue project, which will extend the Q line to 96th Street, is scheduled to begin service at the end of the year. The second phase will expand the line to 125th Street.

When the authority cut the project’s funding last year, incensed leaders in East Harlem claimed their community was being neglected. Robert J. Rodriguez, a state assemblyman, said Wednesday he was pleased that some funding was restored and that more was pledged for the next five-year capital plan.

“We’ve gotten to a place where we’re happy that we’ll be able to substantially begin the work on Phase 2,” Mr. Rodriguez, a Democrat, said.

The authority said it would apply for a federal grant program, New Starts, to pay for the additional $500 million for the project.

As part of the budget agreement, the authority’s debt limit was raised to $55 billion from $41 billion, spurring concerns that the agency would take on debt to pay the state’s funding share. Robert E. Foran, the authority’s chief financial officer, told board members on Wednesday that if the agency financed debt on the state’s behalf, the state would pay for the debt service. The move would not prompt a fare increase, he said.

The plan must be approved by the state’s Capital Program Review Board, which includes representatives of the governor, the mayor, the Assembly speaker and the Senate majority leader. The review board’s blessing would end a period of uncertainty at the authority, which first introduced the spending proposal more than a year and a half ago.

Gene Russianoff, the longtime leader of the Straphangers Campaign, a rider advocacy group, complained that the process took too long and that the governor’s funding plan was not concrete enough.

“It’s a good thing for the riding public that it’s moving ahead,” he said, “but they didn’t set any indoor speed records.”

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