’PROGRESS that MTA has made in the last 20 years to restore and maintain the core system must not and cannot be eroded’, emphasised New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Executive Director Katherine N Lapp on July 29, unveiling investment proposals for the agency’s fifth five-year capital programme.

MTA hopes to spend an unprecedented $27·3bn in 2005-09. `The capital programme sets forth prudent plans that define the core needs for bringing the entire system into a state of good repair, accomplishing normal replacement, and instituting system improvement’, explained Lapp. Maintenance and upgrades to existing subway and commuter rail infrastructure would account for $16·1bn, new lines or extensions such as the Second Avenue subway and the Long Island Rail Road’s East Side Access would be allocated $9·9bn and the region’s highways, bridges and tunnels would get just $1·3bn.

Noting that $48bn had been spent over the past 20 years, Lapp said ’the results have been remarkable. On-time performance at Long Island Rail Road has increased from 85% in the early 1980s to 93·1%, and Metro-North’s performance rose from 80·5% to 97·5%.’ Mean distance between subway car failures increased from 11246 km in 1981 to over 225000 km in 2003.

The budget gives New York City Transit $12·1bn for maintenance and rehabilitation work, with another $2·4bn for Long Island Rail Road and $1·6bn for Metro-North. Funding would come from federal, state and local governments as well as MTA’s bridge and tunnel tolls and the sale of bonds.

Major investment elements include the purchase of 960 new subway cars and 1300 new buses for New York City Transit, rehabilitation of 55 stations, and further investment in automated train supervision and communications-based train control.

LIRR would be able to start adding a new third track on its main line between Bellrose and Hicksville, build a new maintenance depot to serve the Port Jervis branch and acquire a further 170 M-7 EMU cars to complete the replacement of its M-1 fleet (RG 8.04 p474).

Metro-North would buy 100 new dual-voltage M-8 cars to accommodate growing traffic and begin replacement for M-2 cars on the New Haven Line, with the state of Connecticut covering 65% of the cost. MTA would also buy 36 more M-7s, and fund rebuilding work on the Pascack Valley and Port Jervis lines, plus rehabilitation of 25 stations. The budget also covers Phases 2 and 3 of a programme to replace the railway’s century-old workshops and depot at Croton-Harmon.

MTA says an additional $500m would be spent ’to continue post-9/11 security investments to harden vulnerable assets and implement systems for conducting targeted surveillance, controlling access, stopping intrusion, and providing command and control systems to support incident response.’

Other funding sources will be required for two further rail projects. A $2bn extension of the No 7 Flushing subway line from Times Square to the west side of Manhattan would be financed by the city, whilst a direct link from Lower Manhattan to JFK International Airport would be funded by Washington and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

Meanwhile, MTA has requested proposals from marketing companies to develop sponsorship schemes for transport facilities, including subway stations, bridges and tunnels. It hopes to raise sponsorship revenue to help close a short-term operating budget deficit estimated at over $1bn.

  • MTA has awarded a $43·4m contract to Rail Works Corp subsidiary L K Comstock & Co for the second phase of resignalling on the No 7 Flushing Line over the next four years. The work includes renewal of the interlockings at Queensboro Plaza, 33rd Street and 74th Street in Queens, and of lineside and relay room equipment. Comstock completed Phase I of the Flushing Line project, from 111th Street interlocking to the Main Street terminal, towards the end of 2003.