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Project Overview

The research team worked with staff across all MTA operating agencies to analyze the impacts of deferring or canceling six projects in MTA’s propose 2005-09 core capital program. The objective was to come up with a clear methodology and means for communicating the fiscal prudence of these projects to policymakers and the public.

  • The projects we examined included:
  • LIRR Railcar Lifecycle Maintenance Investments
  • Jamaica Bus Depot Replacement
  • Cross Bay Bridge Deck Rehabilitation
  • Verrazano Bridge Deck Replacement
  • MNR Commuter Rail Power Distribution
  • LIRR Commuter Rail Concrete Tie Installation

The research team broke down the net budgetary impact of deferring these projects into five components, to the extent that supporting data was available:

  • A “reliability tax” – Routine and emergency repairs become increasingly frequent as capital reinvestment is deferred (e.g. bridge deck rehabilitation).
  • An “efficiency tax” – Work is needlessly complicated or resources wasted by obsolete facilities, equipment, and spatial constraints (e.g. bus and rail car maintenance facilities and substation replacement).
  • A “redundancy tax” – Extra requirements for reserve capacity (larger fleet spare ratios, additional crews) are needed to keep the system operating at a given performance level (e.g. rail car lifecycle maintenance).
  • A “capital tax” – The degree of disrepair accelerates over time, or repeated capital investments that otherwise might be avoided remain necessary (e.g. bridge deck rehabilitation and concrete tie replacement).
  • Cost escalation – Inflationary pressures that increase the cost of a project over time, even if there is no change in its scope.