MTA trims capital budget

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is cutting down its capital budget as it seeks to keep its costs down, the Wall Street Journal reported. The agency said yesterday that it had cut the cost of its five-year plan by $2 billion, to $24 billion. The MTA’s capital budget pays for projects such as the Second Avenue Subway, new train cars and buses, subway station rehabilitation and general system maintenance. While the authority and the state Legislature agreed to fund the first two years of the five-year plan last year, it still needs to find another $9 billion to pay for the following years up until 2014.

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Richard Anderson, president of the New York Building Congress, told the Journal that the MTA’s budget has big implications for his organization’s members. He estimates that if the MTA gets the $9 billion it’s looking for, it would account for 25 percent of the city’s construction activity next year. Where the MTA funding will come from remains unclear. It reduced by $1 billion its projections for funding from the federal government, which pays for about a third of the capital plan. The agency also so far has yet to ask for new revenue, whether in the form of taxes or higher fares.

Meanwhile, this afternoon, MTA Chairman and CEO Jay Walder abruptly announced his resignation to become CEO of the MTR Corporation in Hong Kong. In a statement yesterday, he had said: “We recognize that there’s no appetite for new taxes in New York today.”