Testimony of Rachael Fauss, Reinvent Albany
To Capital Program Oversight Committee (CPOC) of the MTA
Regarding Flushing CBTC Project
November 13, 2018
Good afternoon, I am Rachael Fauss, Senior Research Analyst for Reinvent Albany. We advocate for more transparent and accountable state government, including for state authorities like the MTA.
While it is likely a relief and good news for the committee to receive a report today that the Flushing CBTC project will be in-service this month, we would like to provide to the CPOC our analysis of the project. This project has been at least 15 years in the making, with design worked planned for in the 2000-2004 capital plan starting in 2003. Construction of the project is at least 5 years late: the 2005-2009 capital plan had major funding commitments to start 2007, yet the Thales contract was not let until 2010 – 3 years later. The work with Thales, originally planned for completion in November 2016, is now 2 years late, bringing a total of at least 5 years of delay. Additionally, the project is $157 million over budget from what was proposed in the MTA’s capital budgets. Given these large differences, we call on the MTA to conduct and release an in-depth “lessons learned” report about what worked well, and what did not.
This report is essential to ensuring the success of the Fast Forward Plan, which calls for systemwide CBTC upgrades on a condensed schedule, doing what normally would take the MTA 40 years to complete 10 years instead.
In reviewing CPOC’s board materials since 2011, we found a pattern of issues that may have contributed to delays, yet it is not clear to us if the Board has conducted a similar review. In receiving staff reports on a quarterly or less basis, you are getting a snapshot in time, often with re-baselined and not aggregate information.
Since 2011, the staff has reported to CPOC that software issues were a concern – either “yellow” or “red” in status reports – 10 times. G.O. availability – or track closures – were a concern 9 times. CBTC testing was an issue 5 times, and R188 availability a concern 3 times (though we appreciate Hurricane Sandy damaged the test tracks).
In sum, we would like to ask the CPOC to conduct a full analysis of the CBTC Flushing Project: an in-depth “lessons learned” analysis of what worked well, and what didn’t.
Thank you for your consideration.
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