Incoming Governor Kathy Hochul plans to invest heavily in the Metropolitan Transit Authority, including billions to modernize aging track and signal systems, to purchase new trains, to construct new subway and elevated rail lines, and to rebuild the system’s busiest transit stations.
Sources familiar with her thinking insist that she will prioritize projects that best impact the quality of life and access to employment for the City’s most marginalized neighborhoods.
“Certainly, Kathy is going to move full speed ahead on the Second Avenue Subway — and she is going to extend it along 125th Street all the way across Harlem,” the staffer explains. “But make no mistake, her top priority will be the ‘Triboro Rx’ because it impacts economically marginalized neighborhoods and communities of color in an incredibly meaningful way.”
The staffer says to expect the completion of the TriboroRx, a long-standing proposal of the Regional Plan Association that would directly link the outer boroughs, before the competition of the Second Avenue Subway.
“TriboroRx will also reduce congestion and bottlenecks at transfer stations in Manhattan, while making it easier and quicker to travel between Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx,” the staffer adds. “Kathy wants to be remembered for making people’s lives better in real and impactful ways.”
In prepared remarks, Hochul is expected to link the issue of mass transit expansion to the Biden Administration’s national effort to combat global climate change.
Hochul opposes a tax on carbon emissions beyond those already established on gasoline because they disproportionately impact the poor. Instead, she believes that investing in mass transit will help everyone, including low-income communities, to adopt less carbon-intensive lifestyles.
“In order to ultimately neutralize our carbon footprint, we need to make it easier for more people, over a larger area of our State, to live transit-oriented lifestyles, which will have the impact of getting vehicles off the roads and carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere,” she is expected to say, likely in her inaugural address. “Nothing can get us farther towards the goal of carbon neutrality than a truly modern, well managed, and easy to use mass transit system for the 20 million people who call the Tri-State Metropolis home.”
“So I challenge us today to build the very best public transit system in the world, on every metric of service quality and for every neighborhood, so that New Yorkers can enjoy a more accessible, more equitable, more mobile, more vibrant, more dynamic tomorrow,” she plans to say in prepared remarks shared with The Chronicle.
Hochul’s plan is expected to commit $20 billion to modernize and expand the MTA; $8 billion towards a new Hudson River tunnel to expand rail capacity entering Manhattan; $10 billion towards a new at-grade light rail system in Nassau County that will operate independently of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR); $2 billion to double-track capacity at Penn Station; and $1 billion towards a new regional Amtrak Terminal in Long Island City, which she wants to name Shirley Chisholm Station, in honor of the late Brooklyn congresswoman and presidential candidate.
Hochul will not be proceeding with the Cuomo Administration’s proposed ‘LaGuardia Air Train‘, opting to instead explore extending the Q Train from Astoria to the airport. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cotes advanced the alternative concept early last year.
The sweeping mass transit investments will also include $4 billion for light rail and monorail projects in Buffalo; and another $4 billion for the same in Rochester. It’s unclear how smaller cities like Syracuse and Albany will be included in the spending initiative.
In all, statewide investments in mass transit could top $60 billion over the next ten years. Hochul plans to commit $6 billion annually in the general fund budget in order to avoid long-term borrowing.
Hochul’s plan relies heavily on federal matching funds in the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill, which is currently pending congressional budget reconciliation.