Advocates and New York lawmakers on Thursday said funding improvements on the city’s transit infrastructure is imperative, just a week after the ceiling partially collapsed at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall station.
Standing outside the Brooklyn Heights station, several advocates touted the potential benefits the MTA’s Fast Forward plan could bring, but said the state needs to figure out how to fund it.
The plan, put out by NYC Transit President Andy Byford, includes a five-year and 10-year road map to modernize several of the transit system’s aging infrastructure, including the signal systems and increasing wheelchair accessibility. But the MTA has not put out a specific cost for the plan and lawmakers are debating the best way to fund such a plan once it is calculated.
Following the partial collapse at Borough Hall, in which no one was seriously injured, Byford said the station was very old, but vowed to “get to the bottom of what happened.”
“The MTA has put forth many proposals, a fairly detailed review of the capital needs, without any indication of how we would fund that,” said Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D-Lower Manhattan), adding: “There are a lot of options for funding this but what we need to do is get together on a clear plan that will generate the money.”
Several revenue streams have been floated as possibilities, including a millionaire’s tax and, seemingly the most popular option, congestion pricing. Byford has said multiple streams of revenue are likely needed to fix all the agency’s problems.
“The simple solution is congestion pricing,” said Assemb. Robert C. Carroll (D-Brooklyn), who added that the MTA does need to come up with an exact price tag before any funding can be allocated and that Cuomo has a big role to play. “It’s the progressive plan, it’s the smart plan.”
Danny Pearlstein, a spokesman for the advocacy group Riders Alliance, said the Fast Forward plan is “a tremendous solution” for the beleaguered MTA, and called congestion pricing “a fair and sustainable source of revenue that could fund Fast Forward, that could make this a reality, that could restore people’s faith in transit, restore the reliability of the transit system, restore the basic safety of the transit system, get New Yorkers moving again, keep our economy growing, keep our tax base growing and thriving.”