, 109 tweets, 22 min read Read on Twitter
Transportation budget hearings about to get underway in Albany! Follow along here.
Pat Foye, MTA President, is imploring the legislature for congestion pricing. Elaborates on Cuomo's ultimatum from yesterday: “If congestion pricing were to fail to pass this session, the MTA will need to raise fares by nearly 30 percent by 2024," he says.
“After congestion pricing revenues, we request the legislature to require the remaining capital needs of NYCT to be funded” half by the city and half by the state, he adds — a Cuomo talking point that's incredibly debatable.
Foye attributes part of the MTA's deficit to fare evasion, which is also up for debate IMO. Says the MTA is losing $1 million per day due to the ongoing litigation regarding the FHV fee passed by the legislature last year.
“Absent new funding, our only option will be service cuts, significant fare and toll increases, as well as staffing cuts," Foye says. Says that, at this rate, the operating deficit will exceed $1 billion by 2022.
Foye is giving the most frank assessment of the MTA's finances I've heard from an agency official.
"The MTA has a new leadership on place. We’re taking action to turn the system around and you can see the progress." 'New' is relative — Foye and Hakim have been in their positions for 2 years.
Albany is fucking whack. Senator @LizKrueger just said "We have the written testimony," and cut Foye off so legislators can ask questions — Lest we think these hearings are for the public.
“I have a lot of questions, so the shorter the answer the better," @AmyPaulin says. Her first question: Won't congestion pricing take years to implement? How do we budget for that?
MTA CFO Bob Foran: “What we will suffer [if congestion pricing is delayed]… is a deficit on our capital program is those revenues are delayed… That’s a delay in the increase in capital funds."
On operating, Foran says, "We were projecting a balanced budget this year, but… it was not structurally balanced. We’re using one-shots to close the gap. We’re running out of money from one-shots, so this is the last year we can do that."
Paulin's questions are good. She notes that Cuomo's budget didn't set a target in terms of how much congestion would be reduced. "To quantify that today is not really possible, but we think it would be a significant amount," Foye says.
MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim chimes in to speak about the importance of CP for buses. But CP in London didn't just make space for buses — it also allowed for more cycling and walking improvements.
Asked about Cuomo's desire for MTA governance reform, Foye says, “I’ll leave governance to elected officials here in Albany.” Says there's a lot of possibility for internal restructuring as well.
.@SenKennedy, of Buffalo: “We have a responsibility to resolve this crisis. I believe the solution to this begins at the top.” Is going after MTA executive salaries. "What is being done to control these salaries paid?"
Hakim: “We are actually agreeing and welcoming the need for reform. We instituted a hard hiring freeze for 2019.”
“We should not be talking about making cuts. We should be talking about just the opposite," says the senator from Buffalo.
.@SenKennedy has clearly done his homework and is asking good questions. It still makes no sense that @AndreaSCousins put someone from Buffalo in charge of MTA oversight.
Alas! Perhaps it's politically wise to have someone who's totally dissociated from NYC politics doing this oversight. But IDK.
“We’re not there yet. Nobody is taking a victory lap here," Hakim says of the subway action plan. “The reliability of the system is improving. Journey times are improving.”
Assembly transportation chair Bill Magnarelli of Syracuse: "I don’t think that upstate’s transportation problems are going to be fixed and addressed properly until we fix the MTA’s problems. You’re the big gorilla in the room."
"It's very hard for me to go home, and say, you're going to give billions and billions to the MTA downstate, and I can't get them to work" in Syracuse.
Foye is prepared for these questions: cites which MTA contractors are based in Syracuse.

We've had 3 legislators ask questions so far. Not one of them is from NYC.
First NYC legislator to get questions, @LeroyComrie. He's asking Janno Lieber about capital construction cost-cutting. "This is an area the board and the staff are really passionate about," Lieber says.
Lieber: “We are giving the project managers, for the first time, the ability to say no to anything which threatens budget and schedule. That’s a first.”
Comrie, a longtime opponent of congestion pricing, says his next round of questions will highlight his skepticism that the governor's plan won't actually reduce congestion. "I'm tired of calling it congestion pricing. It doesn't resolve congestion. It doesn't raise enough money."
“In order for our riders to be able to come into midtown or downtown, we need to make sure that there’s a better bus plan for express buses. a better plan for the long island railroad. the Atlantic Ticket that’s happening is a great plan that needs to be expanded into the Bronx.”
.@nily is asking about bus improvements! bus lane enforcement! the new fare payment system and all-door boarding!
Hakim says 12 routes currently have bus lane camera enforcement. "That’s not enough, we need more," she says. “The critical issue for us and buses is reimagining bus routes… While we’ve added bus routes, we haven’t looked holistically at our bus system.”
The New Fare Payment System is on time, Foye says. Will be rolled out on buses in October 2020.
Another longtime congestion pricing opponent, @LiuNewYork: “You’re asking people for a lot. You’re asking us to approve a plan that is significant. You haven’t even laid out what you’re asking the public to pay."
More Liu: "The public is willing to pay more for better service. The problem is they’re not sure the MTA can deliver it."
Liu prefaced his questions with “There is nothing personal going on here, OK?" but he's basically screaming at these guys right now.
Foran says congestion pricing will cover 37% of the next capital plan, "which we consider a strong foundation for a capital plan," he says.
Liu is calling out the MTA for not being upfront with its analyses of congestion pricing's effect on traffic. “There’s a number of analyses going on," Foran says. Stay tuned.
I'm not going to tweet about LIRR and Metro-North questions from suburban legislators.
Note how suburban legislators talk about the MTA: the city's subways and buses, which are essential to the WHOLE state's economy, aren't on their agenda. For them, it's all about the railroads.
In other news, I just spilled water all over my desk.
Multiple Long Islanders — @toddkaminsky @EdwardRa19 — are asking re: congestion pricing, "What will we get for our people?" Foye says LIRR & M-N improvements will get part of the funding.
.@jessicaramos, first congestion pricing-supporting NYC legislator to speak so far, tells Foye she's “very concerned about how we can assure that this governor and future governors stop using the MTA as an ATM."
Lots of questions about elevators today, unsurprisingly. Hakim: “The availability of our elevators is something we’re very focused on.”
“When we go home, we’re asking, with congestion pricing, if we put that into effect, will there be toll increases?” asks Staten Island Assembly Member @Michael_Cusick. Foye: “I hope I was clear that our financial situation is incredibly dire.”
Foye: "I'd be less than candid if I told you that we didn't need those toll increases this year and in 2021."
Context: the @MoveNewYork proposal, floated before Cuomo got on board with congestion pricing, proposed to lower outerborough tolls. That picked up support from some outerborough/Staten Island elected.
.@agounardes: “The testimony this morning was a little disingenuous. To say that without congestion pricing fares would automatically go up [without congestion pricing], I think is false… To say this or nothing is disingenuous to this people on this panel."
Gounardes says he's "generally supportive" of congestion pricing, but that it's not true that it's the only possible revenue source.
I apologize for the typos in this thread. ❤️ 🌈
Foye pushed back on Gounardes. Says the agency needs a LOT of money — not just CP. “If CP doesn’t pass, the fare increases that I discussed were not intended to be fear mongering; were not intended to scare. They’re not exaggerated.”
Upstate Assembly Member Will Barclay, a Republican, has latched onto the MTA's specious claim that fare evasion is an increasing and major problem. Hakim responds that NYPD is increases enforcement.
Barclay: asks for an exception for commercial traffic, saying farmers in his district sell goods in NYC.

Foye: "The congestion pricing as proposed would include commercial vehicles."
.@bradhoylman, NY politics' #1 gay dad, asks about Malaysia Goodson and cites his 1-year-old child. Asks why the station where Goodson died is not included on the MTA's list of accessibility priorities.
“I do appreciate the governor literally stepping in and reexamining [the L shutdown] plan," Hoylman says. “It does not give me any confidence in the state of the MTA that four years of this plan were upended in a night.”
Hoylman asks how L riders will be protected from toxic silica dust. Lieber says all the work is going to be done on weekends, not nights.
New SI assembly member @Charlesdfall asks about North Shore BRT.
.@jamaaltbailey, of Mt. Vernon and the Northweast Bronx, is speaking now.

Here's what he told me about congestion pricing earlier this month: nyc.streetsblog.org/2019/01/14/liv…
We have entered the parochial "What about these three specific things in my district?" portion of the day. Sucks.
Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato: "I'm concerned about the unfair toll on the Cross Bay Bridge."

Says her constituents have "enjoyed" free access to the Central Business District.
“The MTA cannot just continue to fund those," Foran says of toll cuts. “The MTA is not in the position to offer additional discounts at this time.”
David Carlucci, of Rockland and Westchester counties, is upset that Foye didn't mention anything west of the Hudson. On congestion pricing, says "There’s no plan about what it’s actually going to cost the average resident in Westchester, Rockland & the entire metropolitan area.”
.@JoAnneSimonBK52 is up. She's a MAJOR congestion pricing supporter. nyc.streetsblog.org/2018/02/08/jo-…
Simon asks about this @nicolegelinas story.

“It appears to not have to comply with any environmental regulations. People are very concerned that the MTA will be running amok with city property.”
Foye: "The reason for the provision... is to shortcut the process to get CP implemented."
James Skoufis asks Pat Foye, who has only been at the MTA for two years, “Does the MTA owe its riders an apology?" Foye complies and apologizes, but it's hard to see how this is his fault (as opposed to the guy who's been governor for 8+ years).
Alright! They're taking a lunch break!
... and we're back!
.@NMalliotakis calls Staten Island the "Sahara" of transportation deserts.

Note: every elected official thinks their district is a transportation desert. Malliotakis district is in a lot better shape than a lot of parts of eastern Queens.
.@dianesavino: “I supported the @MoveNewYork plan. I think that’s a better plan.”

“Even though I think we need to do something... I’m a little skeptical of this new plan. Because regardless of what we do on CP, you’re going to have to raise the fares and tolls no matter what.”
Diane Savino, with the head-scratcher of the day, asserts that penalties on drivers who evade tolls are worse than those facing people who jump turnstiles, who are arrested in the 1000s each year. “If you jump the turnstile, there’s no fine!” she says. Oy.
.@Bobby4Brooklyn, another support of congestion pricing: “What you’ve presented to us today will be a mere pittance, and you will be back [asking for more money] in 2022.”
Carroll says he's going to propose more revenue streams in the coming days. “There’s a poison pill in the governor’s budget," he says of the governor's desire for the city and state to split the remainder of the capital costs after congestion pricing.
“The city pays more per capita per ride than Long Island, Westchester and Rockland," he says.
Carroll says the 12/31/2021 start date in the governor's budget is “absolutely ridiculous." “We are going to be well into the capital budget by then," he says.
.@cbcny has done great work showing how much NYC residents ALREADY pay for the subways.
Folks following at home: Make sure you check out the valuable comments and testimony from @ReinventAlbany.
Dumbest question of the day comes from Assembly Member Jonathan Jacobson, who asks what the MTA is doing about Stewart Airport. Foye notes that the airport is run by the Port Authority. Jacobson does not appear to process Foye's response.
.@SenatorParker: “I am not a supporter of the congestion pricing plan," unlike Carroll, whose district overlaps with his.
Parker wants more details on pricing and what its impact will be.
Foye: “There models that have been run engineering and consulting firms for the MTA and others, including transit advocates, as well as Sam Schwartz, Charles Komanoff. All sorts of models exist… The work on those models and the assumptions built into them continues.”
Now up: Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman. She's been more open to CP in recent months: qchron.com/editions/queen…
Republican State Senator Bob Antonacci, who represents the Syracuse region, doesn't seem to think the state should give money to the MTA.
.@LizKrueger asked about "$65 million diversion" from the MTA's budget — I'm not sure what she's referring to. This was an issue in 2017...
Kreuger, who supports congestion pricing but says "the devil is in the details," says, "We are actually looking to see a plan before we decide to vote on a plan.”
Kreuger with the 🔥 question: “Where do you see the governor doesn’t have control over the MTA and what you do now?”
"There is no single person in control of the MTA. That is my belief," Foye responds.
Assembly Member @Felixwortiz: “Does the MTA have any deficit… today?” (I guess he doesn't read the news? IDK, Maybe he's working towards something?)
Ah, yes! Ortiz's point is that he doesn't want congestion pricing funds to go to closing the operating deficit, that CP should fund capital, as outlined in the budget.
.@Wright56AD, of Central Brooklyn, has a long profile on Streetsblog. nyc.streetsblog.org/?s=tremaine+wr…
Wright: "A large majority of my constituents get all of their healthcare from Manhattan.”

“It’s just, it’s too much. I don’t think there’s any concern for people who are making that trip and are not the cause of congestion," she says.
Kudos to Wright for pushing back against the MTA's fare evasion talking points, though.
Here's some data on her district from @Tri_State. tstc.org/reports/factsh…
Interesting. Foye says the New Fare Payment System will still allow for riders to use cash or Metrocards... What? Huh?
Some L train info from Ronnie Hakim. “We think we’ll still need alternative service," she says. “We’ll be out in the communities talking about how to make sure everybody who needs a ride gets a ride."
We're about 20 minutes out from the start of Hour 5 of this hearing. #Albany
.@HeleneWeinstein is asking questions about congestion pricing. Notes that her constituents all have to walk or bus to get on the subway. @GershKuntzman interviewed her on the issue two weeks ago: nyc.streetsblog.org/2019/01/14/liv…
TFW the transportation committee chair is from Buffalo...

@SenKennedy: "“Riders want to see tangible improvements. President Foye, you mentioned earlier the Wi-Fi… That’s the type of improvement I’m talking about.” 😱
Senator Kennedy, welcome to transit advocacy.

Riders don't give a shit about Wi-Fi. nyc.streetsblog.org/2016/07/14/whe…
Friends, I'm not sure how much longer I'll be tweeting this hearing... Waiting for @LeroyComrie's next questions, which he promised would be about congestion pricing.
Comrie's up and poking holes in the governor’s comments yesterday that it’s either a fare hike or congestion pricing.
Comrie says he's heard the MTA is already putting out bids for the pricing infrastructure. Foye says that's not true. All the MTA has done so far is reach out to London, Stockholm, Singapore and other places that have instituted CP.
.@Bobby4Brooklyn is back. Wants the MTA to come up with a final $ amount for its capital needs. “I would like there to be more candid transparency from the MTA," he says. Notes that many of his colleagues think he's crazy for supporting CP w/o more details.
.@LiuNewYork says ten years ago, he could go back to his constituents and list the ways the Bloomberg plan would help them.

Now, he says, “I have nothing to give [my constituents] except, ‘well we need $1 billion to save the subways and transit system.’”
We're now into the three-minute lightning round for non-committee members. Expect lots of parochial questions.
.@jessicaramos says she's troubled by the suggestion that there should be more police in the subways. “We are dealing with the over-policing of communities of color by the NYPD," she says.
.@HeleneWeinstein asks about the governor's executive order, which the MTA has been using to do noncompetitive procurements, which have been heavily criticized. MTA says they're only using the EO sparingly.
.@SenatorParker suggests a gas tax as an alternative to congestion pricing.

“We’re creating a dynamic in which we are calling something a congestion pricing plan that we know doesn’t actually deal with congestion.”
OMG IT ENDED OMG OMG OMG OMG. Thanks for coming to my tweet thread.
Later today, the @nysdmv — which has been w/o a commissioner for 4+ years — will testify as well.

This morning, we posted these recommendations for Cuomo's nominee to fill the post: nyc.streetsblog.org/2019/01/30/new…
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