New York MTA issues 20-Year Capital Needs Report

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority has released their needs report and the results may be surprising


October 29, 2023 by Jeffrey Smith

The MTA has released its 20-year capital needs report and some of the 25 identified needs point to a new direction for the agency.

Of the screened priorities most are for New York City Transit involving subway line extensions or bus lines, some serving subways. Of the 25, 14 are for the NYCTA. Of those, 4 are strictly bus-related.

The most well-known of the subway-related is of course the Second Avenue Subway. Phase 2 is about to begin with a funding commitment from the federal government just released. The projected cost of Phase 2 is $7.55 Billion in 2027 Dollars. Of note: the report indicates that this is an extended of the previous plan, which only extended to 125th St. and Park Avenue. The MTA now wants it to extend to Broadway and 125th in West Harlem, news that was only recently disclosed but now confirmed according to this report.

Phase 3 of the Second Avenue Subway will extend from 63rd Street to Houston Street, and cost $13.5B. Phase 4 extending the 2nd Avenue line from Houston to Hanover Square is not listed in the report. We can conclude that means that the MTA does not envision this happening in the 20-year window of the report. Yes, it’s a long way off!

You may think that’s a lot of money, and compared to other projects around the world, it is. But the bang for the buck is there. Of the projects given a cost-effectiveness in the report and rail-related, Phase 2 is rated at a cost per time savings over 30 years of $1.43, good for 4th of the 25 projects. Phase 3 is rated at $4.47, or 9th of 25.

The Interborough Express, or “IBX”, is high on NYCT’s list of priorities. Set to be the MTA’s first Light Rail line (LRT), it scores 3rd at $1.29. It would run along the Bay Ridge branch, which currently only hosts freight, to Jackson Heights in Queens.

Of course, the cost-effectiveness of a project is not the only determining factor. Also consider are, of course, total cost, ridership, system crowding, and ownership of the right-of-way.

Other subway projects of note include 3 options for an extension of either the Eastern Parkway or Fulton St. lines along Utica Avenue, an extension of the “W” line to Red Hook, extending the “3” line to Flatlands, and reactivation of the full Rockaway Beach line.

Besides NYCT subway work, projects were also analyzed for the Long Island and Metro-North Railroads. If you’re planning on a reactivation of the Lower Montauk branch, forget it. It prices out at $62.41 cost per time saved. Rockland County, where officials and residents have long complained that they are short-changed by the MTA, is in line for capacity improvements in the form of a midline yard, which prices out at $40.46, seemingly out-of-reach. Lastly, if the CT Department of Transportation wants to kick in, an option for a connection between the Danbury branch and Harlem line at Brewster prices out at $6.35, and a total outlay of $820M.

Basically, this is a wish-list, whose outcome depends on funding. But it’s exciting to think about the possibilities.