Silver on MTA Funding Plan: Wait Until 2012 Budget Debate

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Albany isn't currently working on any plan to pay for the MTA's capital program, but that it should come up during budget season. Photo: Noah Kazis

The current MTA capital budget is very bad news for transit riders, who are being asked to shoulder $7 billion in debt all on their own. Where can the 8 million daily riders who count on the MTA turn for help?

Not Washington: The just-negotiated debt ceiling deal is likely to mean more cuts to transportation, which would probably translate into more cuts at the MTA.

Not Andrew Cuomo: The governor never even made time for a sit-down meeting with MTA chief Jay Walder, reports the New York Times, much less developed a plan for adequately funding transit. According to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Cuomo is focused on finding funds to pay for roads and bridges instead of tracks and trains.

Not Michael Bloomberg: The MTA’s budget calls for the city to chip in half a billion dollars from the new tax revenue that will be generated by the Second Avenue Subway. The mayor put the kibosh on that idea on his weekly radio show, according to Transportation Nation.

Not the State Senate: Senate Republicans remain focused on eliminating the payroll mobility tax, which brings in $1.5 billion a year for transit. In June, eight Democrats voted with them on a one-house bill to phase out the tax.

That leaves just the State Assembly, which could redeem its decision to kill congestion pricing in 2008 by leading the charge for transit now. After an event today marking the opening of a new entrance to the Fulton Street transit center, Streetsblog asked famously tight-lipped Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver whether there are any discussions about funding the rest of the MTA’s capital plan happening in his chamber.

“There are none going on right now, but I’m sure they’ll be part of the next budget conversation,” Silver said.