OP-ED: Why does MTA fail to secure $100 million in available federal transit funding year after year?

March 15, 2024
If left unobligated, the funding will eventually lapse and be returned to the federal treasury and may be reprogrammed for another purpose.

Here is a federal financial resource that New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman Janno Lieber and New York City (NYC) Transit President Richard Davey may have overlooked. Are they aware their predecessors have been unsuccessful for up to eight years in applying for three old Federal Transit Administration (FTA) discretionary funded project allocations that would improve the NYC Transit Canarsie L subway line worth more than $100 million?  

With a multi-billion dollar, multi-year budget shortfall, why would you want to forfeit these federal funds. On January 29, 2024, the FTA published a Federal Notice of Available Funding for Federal Fiscal Year 2024.  This included the availability of carryover earmark allocations from 2016 and 2017, including $3.2 million for the New York Canarsie Power Improvements, $13.1 million for the New York Canarsie Power Improvement Program Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Program and $83.7 million for the NYC Canarsie Line Power and Station Improvements.

Lieber and Davey should have previously developed and submitted grant applications to apply for these funds worth more than $100 million.  Eight years later, work should have already been completed. Why have they been unsuccessful to date in having these funds obligated under approved grants? These funds will eventually lapse and be lost. They end up returned to the federal treasury and may be reprogrammed for another purpose.

When will Leiber and Davey develop a recovery schedule for completion of these long overdue projects?  How many more years must taxpayers, commuters and NYC Transit employees have to wait before seeing the benefits from completion of these federally funded improvements to the NYC Transit subway Canarsie L Line? 

About the Author

Larry Penner

Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously served as a former director for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office of Operations and Program Management. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions in capital projects and programs for New Jersey Transit, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, NYC Transit bus, subway and Staten Island Railway, Long Island and Metro North railroads, MTA Bus, NYCDOT Staten Island Ferry along with 30 other transit agencies in New York and New Jersey.