New York does not need to go the way of other countries and create multi-state bureaucracies to finance and build mass transit systems, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s chairman. Joseph Lhota, who runs New York City’s buses, subways, commuter rail roads and major bridges and tunnels, dismissed that recommendation:
We’re talking revolution – that is a complete waste of time. It just requires people to come together with a common purpose.
Ironically, the MTA chairman made the comments late last week at a conference organized by a multi-state group, the Regional Plan Association. It was created in 1922 to improve the quality of life in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. Economists agree that New York’s mass transit system must be expanded to the city’s outer boroughs, Long Island and Connecticut, to keep its economy growing. New connections with New Jersey, which has its own transit system, are still in the early stages.
Noting the MTA systems serve 8.4 million people a day, Lhota said: “It’s the lifeblood of the metropolitan area; they serve 90 percent of the central business district” in Manhattan. But the MTA is chronically underfunded. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for example, had to get the city to pay for the billion-dollar extension of the No. 7 subway from Times Square west to 11th Avenue and south to 34th Street. “I could actually see the extension of the No. 7 train to other parts of the West Side,” Lhota said.
Yet that new link, which Lhota said might run south to West 23rd Street along the West Side Highway, likely will be too costly to be included in the authority’s next five-year capital plan. In six years or so, the new Second Avenue subway line will link East 96th Street to East 63rd Street. But it could take generations to lengthen the line so that it runs from 125th Street to Lower Manhattan.