MIDTOWN — MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast urged Mayor Bill de Blasio to "stand up for our customers and your constituents" by agreeing to provide $3.2 billion to fund the agency's $26.8 billion five-year capital plan.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who controls the MTA, has agreed to chip in $8.3 billion in state money to fund the program and has pressured the city to up its contribution to close the remaining $11.5 billion capital funding gap.
Now Prendergast has added his voice.
"Given the State’s clear commitment and the need for the MTA to meet unprecedented challenges, we urge the City to stand up for our customers and your constituents by committing to provide $3.2 billion in support for the Capital Program," Prendergast wrote in the July 28 letter to the mayor.
The city's portion would include increased support for the capital plan as well as covering the non-federal share of $1.5 billion needed to launch the second phase of the Second Avenue subway project.
"We believe our proposal is fair and appropriate," he added.
Cuomo has yet to reveal how the state will fund its $8.3 billion contribution, though some transit advocates fear it will be through the acquisition of more debt which could cause fare increases.
"Last week, Chairman Prendergast sent me a very lovely note, saying that of the $11 billion, he thinks the state should contribute $8.3 billion and that that should be the state’s fair share," Cuomo said Monday at the announcement of a $4 billion plan to overhaul LaGuardia Airport.
"I have said privately, today I say publicly that I agree with you Mr. Chairman. The state will fund the $8.3 billion and we will put it in the budget next year," Cuomo added. "We believe in the MTA capital plan."
City officials have said they are willing to sit down with the MTA to discuss the issue but have not committed to $3.2 billion, more money than the city has ever contributed in the past.
De Blasio called the request a "surprise" at an unrelated press conference on Monday.
On Wednesday, de Blasio, who has had a long-running feud with Cuomo, said the two had spoken a few days ago and that the city needs more information.
"I spoke to the governor a few days back, but I am waiting to hear an articulation of what their MTA plan is, because we’ve only heard a very, very broad number," de Blasio said at a press conference about the hot weather.
"We need to know where is that money coming from, what will it mean for the future of the MTA in general, and then we can weigh the plan. But we can’t do that until the blanks are filled in," added the mayor.
Speaking on Capitol Pressroom, Cuomo said that the $8.3 billion he promised is over the course of five years which breaks down to a little over $1.6 billion per year.
"That's $3 billion over five years," Cuomo said of the MTA budget request from the city.
"Frankly, I can argue that the MTA is asking too much from the state," added the governor.
No one argues that the MTA badly needs to fulfill the goals in its capital plan.
But the city has already addressed the request in part through a letter to Prendergast from Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris.
Shorris wrote that the city already contributes 70 percent of the MTA's operating budget through fares, tolls and taxes without much say on the agency's priorities.
Prendergast countered those arguments by pointing out that New York City has 80 percent of the MTA's $1 trillion in assets.
The city also receives benefits from the MTA that other parts of the state do not, such as student fares and transportation for the disabled.
"The direct City aid to the MTA’s operating costs in 2015 is $1.88 billion, or 27%. State subsidies will total $4.73 billion or 69%," wrote Prendergast who argued that the MTA's governance structure "has well served both the City of New York and the MTA region."