When Will Projects Get Started and In What Order?
In an October 10 letter, transit watchdog groups Reinvent Albany, TransitCenter, NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC), Riders Alliance and Tri-State Transportation Campaign asked Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to use the MTA Capital Program Review Board process to help get the MTA to publish basic information about the 2020-2024 capital plan, including start and completion times for components of the plan.
The groups say the elected officials and MTA can increase public trust by giving the public fundamental details about how the MTA will deliver on its 2020-2024 Capital Plan. The MTA announced it will spend $51.5 B on the upcoming plan — 70% more than on the 2015-2019 plan — which is an extremely ambitious goal given the MTA’s finite capacity to manage and spend capital dollars.
By law, the CPRB must consider the capital plan within 90 days of submission by the MTA, which was on October 1st. The groups asked the elected officials to have their appointees to the CPRB work with the MTA to publish the following information:
- Prior to CPRB approval: A schedule of start dates and completion dates that clearly shows – in the greatest level of detail currently available – the sequence of when the MTA will work on various categories, elements and projects in the plan.
- Longer-term: An implementation plan, for all components of the capital plan, complemented by an enhanced capital dashboard. As recommended by the Build Trust campaign, this will include clear project timelines and construction cost targets, with a schedule for consistent public reporting of progress that does not re-baseline costs or schedules, but rather clearly states original and current goals. A meaningful implementation plan will be used by MTA staff as well as the public, and should be complemented by an improved capital program dashboard to let the MTA, elected officials and public more easily track projects.
The MTA says it intends to “bundle” more work together so that it can complete projects faster and with fewer disruptions. While this may be smart construction management, it should not obscure which projects will come first, second, and ultimately last.
After approval of a final capital plan, the MTA should publish a more detailed, specific implementation plan. The groups pointed to one potential model, the All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP) Strategic Plan from the Chicago Transit Authority. The MTA’s implementation plan should be complemented by an improved capital dashboard, providing schedules and budgets in an open data format that allows for dynamic tracking of projects.
Click here to view the letter.