New MTA Twenty-Year Needs Assessment
By Metropolitan Transity Authority
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has outlined the Authority’s long-term vision to rebuild, improve, and expand the region’s $1.5 trillion transit system over the next twenty years. “The Future Rides With Us,” the MTA’s Twenty-Year Needs Assessment, takes an exhaustive look into the system’s infrastructure needs. It reveals both challenges and opportunities for the future of transportation in the region and lays out an approach to rebuilding the MTA system for another century of service.
The document differs from prior assessments by providing a comprehensive, unconstrained view of the system’s needs, rather than constraining it to meet an arbitrary budget target. As a result, it will serve as a strong foundation in determining how to prioritize capital spending in developing the 2025–2029 capital plan. The assessment also debuts a comparative evaluation of potential expansion projects that could be pursued if the system’s rebuilding and improvement needs are met, for the first time analyzing potential projects objectively along a host of criteria to compare their respective benefits and costs.
“The MTA has never undertaken a Twenty-Year Needs Assessment fed by this level of comprehensive data and analysis,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “Instead of matching needs to some pre-approved budget, this detailed evaluation tells the whole story, laying bare the urgent need for renewal and improvement of the system’s existing infrastructure and to prepare for climate change. This is an essential first step to start the discussion that will shape the 2025–2029 MTA Capital Plan.”
“The MTA system is a $1.5 trillion asset and keeping it running is critical to the New York region,” said MTA Construction and Development President Jamie Torres-Springer. “This Twenty-Year Needs Assessment is the most rigorous assessment in history and will serve as a blueprint for how we can tackle the challenges we face and deliver the future our riders deserve.”
The level of detail, put together over the course of two years, is unprecedented at this scale, resulting in the most rigorous and transparent Twenty-Year Needs Assessment in the MTA’s history. The Agency has looked at every one of the nearly six million component assets that comprise it including:
The future of the system is contingent on three main factors that drive the need for investment: aging infrastructure, climate change, and evolving rider needs. Prolonging the life of existing assets will not only improve reliability and allow for increased service systemwide, but also enable the opportunity to expand and modernize the transit network.
“RPA applauds the clear rationale for project choice and prioritization in the MTA's Twenty-Year Needs Assessment,” said Regional Plan Association Executive Vice President Kate Slevin. “The work is a reaffirmation that projects like the Interborough Express are vital not only to improving commutes, but also to improving equity and serving large numbers of riders. Significant investments in maintaining the current system are of equal if not greater importance in the plan and congestion pricing is a key funding source for them. Upgrading tracks and signals, fortifying the system so the system is ready for intense storms, purchasing new rolling stock and electric buses, and making stations more accessible—these are just some of the many 'core' projects that are absolutely essential. RPA applauds the MTA for clearly articulating these worthy needs.”
“The Twenty-Year Needs Assessment sets a critical track for essential capital investments in our regional transit network,” said Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (PCAC) Executive Director Lisa Daglian. “It helps lay out where the money from congestion pricing will go in the future: critical resiliency projects that will protect riders from increasingly frequent extreme weather; new elevators, escalators, and ramps across the system to improve accessibility for many more people; state-of-good-repair work so subways, buses and commuter rail keep moving—the literal nuts and bolts of keeping the lights on and the trains running on time. At the same time, ensuring the region is able to grow with expansion projects like IBX and Penn Access is key to keeping us economically competitive and attracting new riders out of their cars and onto transit. Riders and all stakeholders will have an opportunity to offer their input to the next capital plan before it’s released next year and then watch as the vision becomes the reality of the twenty-first century transit system our twenty-first century region deserves.”
"New Yorkers need a well-maintained transit network ready to confront new challenges and meet changing needs," said Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum. "Our leaders from Albany to City Hall must provide funding and other resources to deliver for today's and tomorrow's riders. From congestion pricing to better bus service, riders will hold our leaders accountable for the fast, frequent, reliable, resilient, accessible, and affordable public transit system we deserve."
"NYLCV applauds the MTA for putting together a twenty-year needs assessment that addresses an ever-increasing—and increasingly complex—list of priorities for our mass transit system,” said New York League of Conservation Voters President Julie Tighe. “From ensuring equity and service to shoring up infrastructure and resilience capacity—and with the help of critical funds from congestion pricing—this plan sets the MTA on a path to serve the region as the threat of climate change and extreme weather make a well-functioning mass transit system more important than ever."
A few highlights of the need to rebuild and improve are below.
New York City Transit
Long Island Rail Road
Bridges and Tunnels
For the first time, the document includes an evaluation of potential future projects to expand the system comparatively to one another on a level playing field. The analysis comprehensively considers all projects through a systematic analysis using conservative industry-leading cost estimation and modeling techniques that take into account current and projected changes to costs, ridership, and local population shifts. Projects are compared to one another to evaluate potential ridership, cost, travel time, capacity, geographic distribution, equity, resiliency, and network leverage.
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