New York governor to give extra $1 bln to 'decaying' transit systems

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 29, 2017 11:09 AM

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an extra $1 billion for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's capital program on Thursday and said he would declare a state of emergency because of the "wholly unacceptable" decline of New York's transit systems.

Under its current capital program, the MTA is spending $32.5 billion between 2015 and 2019 to upgrade aging transit infrastructure, improve its communications with commuters, and replace or refurbish its more than 6,000 subway cars.

Nearly half of that spending is going toward improvements in the New York City subway system, with the remainder split between various commuter railroads, bus networks, bridges and tunnels that the MTA operates.

Only 63 percent of subway trains are arriving on time so far in 2017, down from 85 percent just six years ago, according to MTA data. Just this week, a subway derailment injured 34 people.

"We're seeing what happens when a transit system breaks down," Cuomo said in a speech at an MTA event bringing transit experts together to discuss new ideas for improving the system.

"The current state of decline is wholly unacceptable, and we're going to do something about it now," he said. "We know the system is decaying, and we know it’s happening rapidly."

The $1 billion comes in addition to $8.3 billion in state funding to the MTA's 2015-2019 capital program that Cuomo announced last year. Other funding comes from New York City, the federal government and through the sale of bonds.

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Cuomo said he would sign an executive order declaring a state of emergency for the MTA.

The order will suspend procurement rules for the MTA, Cuomo's office said in a statement, allowing the state-controlled corporation to more quickly buy the materials and equipment it needs for upgrades.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Lisa Von Ahn)