NYC transit upgrades are long overdue

AM New York

For weeks, the newest plans for MTA capital projects, including $3 billion in funding for key improvements to subways, bridges, tunnels and commuter railroads, sat in wait.

Now, after plenty of typical Albany political posturing, those proposals are on track. State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan finally gave the last pieces of the capital plan the go-ahead on Tuesday night.

The move couldn’t have come at a better time. NYC residents have faced extensive subway delays, power and signal problems, a dangerous derailment, and a host of other issues in recent months. And this summer, as Amtrak makes extensive repairs at Penn Station, the MTA is depending on its strained subway system even more, making the need for improvements all the more apparent.

So, expanding and upgrading the system are essential. The MTA’s plans include $700 million to fund part of the important next phase of the Second Avenue Subway, which will extend the line into East Harlem but could ultimately cost $6 billion.

And the plan adds more funds for cashless electronic tolling at bridges and tunnels.

On top of that, the MTA’s amended plan creates a new span of track on the Long Island Rail Road that will help ease reverse train commutes for NYC residents who work in Nassau or Suffolk counties.
Together, the improvements will ripple through the region, boost the economy and create the opportunity for new and better-paying jobs in the city and beyond.

And all of it is part of the MTA’s larger $32.5 billion overall capital plan, which extends through 2019 and includes money for signals, subway cars and buses, along with repairs and improvements to bus depots, subway station accessibility, and more.

None of it, of course, will get done quickly enough. But it could be the start of a broader effort by state and MTA officials to think and act bigger, to recognize the extensive needs of our subways and commuter rails, and to start modernizing the public transportation system to meet the needs of its riders.

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High-Speed Pod Could Get You From LA To San Francisco In A Half Hour

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — We’re getting our first look at a test for a transportation system that could take people from Southern California to the Bay Area in just half an hour.

Hyperloop is building the pods that would move at 700 mph, or near-supersonic speed.

The first private test took place in the Nevada desert.

The company says it now has one full-scale hyperloop but hopes to have three in service in four years.

The founders say this reminds them of another time transportation took a huge step forward. The company says it now needs to get the state and federal governments on board, because getting the right-of-way for land will be crucial to building the system.

MTA can’t afford to wait on signals upgrades

Problems with both NYCT system-wide subway and LIRR signals at Penn Station require decisive action today, not tommorow.

The MTA must reprogram the $695 million Metro North East Bronx Penn Station Access, the $1.7 billion Second Avenue Subway Phase 2, and the $1.9 billion LIRR Main Line Third Track to help fund upgrading NYCT Subway System Signals. This would provide well over $3 billion as a down payment against $20 billion needed to bring NYCT Subway System Signals up to a state of good repair.

All three canceled projects can be funded out of the next MTA Five-Year Capital Plan for 2020-2024. This still provides ample time for both Metro North East Bronx Penn Station Access and LIRR Main Line Third Track project completions to coincide with LIRR East Side Access to Grand Central Terminal by December 2023 or 2024.

Governor Andrew Cuomo also needs to come up with the outstanding balance of $5.8 billion that he still owes toward the $8.3 billion shortfall to fully fund the $32 billion 2015-2019 MTA Five Year Capital Plan. The MTA can’t afford to wait until 2018 or 2019 for both $5.8 billion and additional $1 billion recently pledged by Cuomo in response to the ongoing subway and LIRR Penn Station crises.

In June 2016, the United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration provided $432 million in Superstorm Sandy funding to the MTA for repairs to the East River Tunnel, including signal upgrades. As of today, no funds have been spent. The MTA and LIRR have yet to complete negotiations with Amtrak for initiation of this work.