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Letter to Editor: FHA Call for MTA to develop EA, rather than EIS doesn’t call for celebration

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March 31, 2021


Dear Editor:

News from Washington earlier this week that the Federal Highway Administration has instructed the MTA to develop and submit an Environmental Assessment (EA), rather than a more detailed and time consuming Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is not necessarily a cause for celebration.  There is still much to do and many other unanswered questions.

Since November 2019, Governor Cuomo and NYC Mayor de Blasio have delayed announcing their appointments to the MTA Traffic Mobility Review Board.  Details of who will pay what can never be resolved until this board is established and completes its mission. It was announced that they will be meeting behind closed doors.  This is inconsistent with both Cuomo' and deBlasio's promises of  open transparent administrations under their watch. Tolling pricing recommendations were originally promised to be made public by November 2020.  

This process is politically sensitive. Congestion Pricing may not kick in until January 2022 or later.  Final details of who will pay what have never been established. Elected officials will lobby for exemptions for police, fire, teachers, low income, outer borough residency, seniors, small commercial delivery businesses, user of electric vehicles or other special niches.  Exemptions will be adopted to placate the constituents of elected officials running for reelection in 2021 or 2022.   You can't capture five years of toll revenues ($15 billion to support MTA’s $51 billion 2020-2024 five year capital plan) when you implement the program two to three years late.

Late start for implementation, downturn in the economy and more people  telecommuting will result in billions of lost anticipated revenue.  .


Larry Penner
Your Friendly Neighborhood Retired Federal Transit Administration Man

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