Regional Plan Association Testimony at NYCTransit & MTA Bus Committee Meeting on L Train Repairs

NYCTransit & MTA Bus Committee Meeting
Monday, February 25, 2019 

Testimony from Kate Slevin On behalf of Regional Plan Association (RPA)

Good morning. My name is Kate Slevin and I am a Senior Vice President at Regional Plan Association.

I am here today to discuss the L Train and ask for a transparent process moving forward.

RPA has always advocated for using the best and most efficient methods for improving our critical infrastructure. As time goes on, costs and stress on the system continue to rise.

We have called for new approaches that bring in new ideas, but evaluation of those proposals must be transparent so the public can weigh costs and benefits.

We are concerned with the news that the new repair plan will result in cuts to the smart alternative transportation plans that were developed with communities and elected officials. The transit way on 14th street, for example, would have served as a model for improving bus travel throughout the City, a model the city desperately needs.

A few questions we’d like to pose to the board and MTA today:

  • If new technologies and repair methods are assessed to be superior to the MTA’s original repair plan, what would full closure of the L Train look like in the new scenario? Is it possible that the new approach would only take 6 months, for example,  if there is full closure? This option must be evaluated in a transparent way so the public can understand the costs and benefits.
  • Given that any repair option will cause significant disruption, can the surface transit improvements including the 14th St transit way and HOV restrictions on the Williamsburg bridge remain? Canceling important transit improvements that would go beyond simply providing temporary relief and could serve as models for new projects around the City is a step backwards.

For years, transit advocates have prepared impacted communities for the L train shutdown and worked with the MTA and DOT to ensure mitigation measures would be put in place.  Our goals today remain the same as it did years ago when we began to engage on this issue:

  • Minimize the impact the L Train and other shutdowns would have on the daily commutes for the thousands of New Yorkers that rely on subways by providing alternative transportation options and preventing even more traffic congestion
  • Show how temporary subway closures could allow desperately needed repair work to be done at lower cost and at a much faster pace
  • Create new, permanent surface transportation options that show how fast, reliable and efficient bus service can be.

Lastly, as budget issues are headlines this week, we urge the MTA leadership and MTA board to be vocal advocates for passage of congestion pricing. It won’t serve all of the agency’s challenges, but it is a vital and important step.  We also support Veronica Vanterpool’s proposal to align the MTA fiscal calendar with the City and State budget calendars so that fare hikes are being voted on with a clear understanding of what additional state funding is coming to the agency. We would expect such a change to be undertaken to minimize any negative fiscal implications.

Thank you for your time.

Kate Slevin
Senior Vice President, State Programs and Advocacy
Regional Plan Association
W: 917-546-4323