On January 19, 2021, the Federal Transit Administration published Federal Notice of Available Funding for Federal Fiscal Year 2021.
The accompanying tables by funding programs make for very interesting reading. Former NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Governor Cuomo, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, members of the NY Congressional delegation, Mayor Bill de Blasio and other elected officials constantly complain that Washington shortchanges the MTA. Yet none of them has ever said a word about the following.
Why has NYCDOT under the past leadership of Commissioner Polly Trottenberg been unsuccessful in applying for the following four old Federal Transit Administration discretionary funded project allocations that are worth a total of $29,483,183 dollars?
Table 14 Prior Year Unobligated Section 5307 Passenger Ferry Grant ProgramNYD2018-PFGP-012- NYCDOT ferry/vessel gangways replacement/upgrade ferry boat/environmental compliance upgrade – $6,302,200
FY 2020NYD2020-PFGP-011 NYCDOT Staten Island Ferry St. George Terminal Roof Replacement – $4,180,982
Table 15 Prior Year Unobligated 5739(b) Buses and Bus Facilities Competitive Allocations.
NYD2019-BUS C-065 NYCDOT Safe Routes to Transit project to make infrastructure, pedestrian safety and accessibility improvements for transit riders along 86th Street in Brooklyn – $9,000,000.
NY2020-Bus C-163 NYCDOT South Bronx BZ 6 Select Bus Service – $10,000,000. NYCDOT should have previously submitted grant applications for these funds.
Why has NYCDOT been unsuccessful in having these funds obligated under approved grants? Has NYCDOT entered formal grants in FTA’s Transit Award Management System (known as “TrAMS”) used to award and manage federal grants. If so, have they failed to answer all of FTA’s concerns and issues as part of any ongoing grant review? If so, have they failed to answer all of FTA’s concerns and issues as part of any ongoing grant review? 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 NYCDOT Staten Island Ferry 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 four FTA earmarks?
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