January 25, 2021
On January 19, 2021, the Federal Transit Administration published Federal Notice of Available Funding for Federal Fiscal Year 2021. Under Table 15 Prior Year Unobligated 5739(b) Buses and Bus Facilities Competitive Allocation, is listed "NY2020-Bus C-163 NYCDOT South Bronx BZ 6 Select Bus Service for $10 million dollars..
Why has NYCDOT under the past leadership of Commissioner Polly Trottenberg been unsuccessful in securing these funds under an approved obligated FTA grant? MTA NYC Transit MABSTOA Manhattan and Bronx Bus Surface Transportation Operating Authority also has an interest in having this grant approved. It is their employees and buses which provide this service. Riders will eventually benefit by improvements paid for by these funds.
Did NYCDOT enter a formal grant in FTA's Transit Award Management System (known as "TrAMS") used to award and manage federal grants?. If so, are there still any outstanding FTA's concerns and issues that need to be resolved as part of any ongoing grant review? Without a formal grant obligation, these funds will eventually lapse and be lost.
NYCDOT is in intense competition against transit agencies from other cities and states around the nation. It hurts NYC, the MTA and Metro NY area, when NYCDOT leaves these discretionary dollars on the table year after year. Our Congressional delegation loses credibility when lobbying for more transit dollars.
There is no incentive for Washington to approve additional discretionary transit dollars. As each year goes by, the project cost also tends to increase. The dollar value of the earmark does not. In the end, taxpayers, commuters and transit employees are the losers. With a multi billion dollar shortfall in the NYC municipal budget, every dollar counts. When will NYCDOT make this a priority and secure these funds under an approved FTA grant?.
(Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight between 1984 – 2014 for over $1 billion in grants to NYC DOT. Most of these funds paid for capital and operating assistance to the private franchised bus operator program and Staten Island Ferry system MTAincluding the purchase of several previous replacement boats)