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March 5, 2019
by Adam Roberts
NYC Subway. Gh9449 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

The MTA’s inability to find a substantial dedicated revenue source, while keeping construction costs down, has long plagued the agency. After years of dealing with these problems, the MTA has reached a crisis point.

In December 2017, The New York Times released a scathing report on cost overruns on MTA construction work. The reporting brought to public attention a variety of practices that keep costs high and significantly delay projects. This came on the heels of 2017’s “Summer of Hell” for the subway.

In response, Governor Cuomo brought in Andy Byford to serve as NYCT President, who quickly developed and released his Fast Forward Plan to fix the subway and bus systems within 10 years. The Governor also began pushing to implement congestion pricing in order to fund the Fast Forward Plan and provide a long-term dedicated funding source for the MTA. In early 2019, the Governor’s proposed State Budget included a congestion pricing plan.

Even as the state legislature continues to debate congestion pricing, the situation at the MTA continues to deteriorate. The MTA has claimed for the last few months that subway service is improving, though many question this assertion. Late last month, the MTA began what may be the first round of serious budget cuts, slashing hourly rates for all existing contracts for professional, technical, and advisory services by 10%.

AIA New York has long advocated on behalf of solving the MTA’s budget woes, including its work supporting funding for the Fast Forward Plan. Members of AIANY, both those working within and with the MTA, take pride in the civic nature of their work. However, the across-the-board fee cutting threatens to force firms to break contracts, imperiling the job security of countless AIANY members.

If you or your firm are affected by the MTA hourly rate cuts, please be sure to contact Adam Roberts, Director of Policy, at aroberts@aiany.org. While AIANY is legally limited in our ability to negotiate with the MTA over fees, we are nonetheless working to ensure that AIANY members are treated fairly for the work they perform.

Pulse Points:

  • From March 5-8, AIA members from across the country will converge on Washington D.C. to network and lobby elected officials. AIA has taken stances on a number of important issues, most notably coming out in support of the Green New Deal. We’ll be sure to update our newsletter readers in the next edition about developments from the conference.
  • In line with AIANY’s Zero Waste Design initiative, we are encouraging members to recycle or donate samples. Save a Sample! is expanding its design sample reuse program; please sign up here for more information.

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