$32 billion in improvements planned for MTA system but half isn’t funded

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New tracks, improved stations, more buses and a replacement for the MetroCard are among the many projects listed in the MTA Capital Plan for 2015 - 2019.

At the September MTA board meeting, staff emphasized the system needs to be improved and also has to be kept in a state of good repair.

The challenge facing officials is they have to continue to find ways to save money and also pay for the $32 billion plan (without sinking the agency deeper into debt).

Lawmakers in Albany will review the proposal. They could send it back requesting changes or agree to fund it (or a portion of it).

The MTA and it's construction projects are economic engines for the state.

A fare and toll increase has been planned for 2015 and 2017. MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast says those in 2015 and 2017 will be about 4% as promised earlier in the year. Future increases, probably occurring every other year, have no guarantee.

Prendergast acknowledged the MTA has to do a better job selling the benefits of the transit system to its stakeholders, which he described as elected leaders in Albany and New York City and the business community.

MTA Board Member Allen Cappelli cast the only "no" vote and says the plan should address increased demand for public transit options on Staten Island and the other boroughs. The North Shore will be home to new development and attractions. A bus rapid transit route was not included for that section.

New trains cars are planned for the Staten Island Rail Road and replacement of the Verrazano Bridge's upper deck is already in the works. That will also include a high-occupancy vehicle lane.

The plan also includes four new Metro-North stations in the Bronx in Hunts Point, Parkchester, Morris Park and Co-op City. That project could bring Metro-North into Penn Station.

Senator Jack M. Martins (R-Mineola) says, "They should continue working to streamline operations and improve efficiency instead of constantly reaching into the pockets of overtaxed Long Islanders who already pay more than their fair share."