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Friday’s Headlines: Good News About MTA Debt Edition

5:01 AM EDT on May 19, 2023

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli delivered a rosier-than-usual forecast for the MTA’s budget. Photo: NYS Comptroller/Flickr

The MTA's big debt problem may be getting a little smaller — thanks in part to congestion pricing, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said Friday.

DiNapoli's annual report on the authority's massive debt once again forecasted the size of that debt to grow — from $44.3 billion today to $56.7 billion in 2028.

Historically, the cost of paying back that debt has fallen on transit riders and their fares. Congestion pricing will shift some of that responsibility to drivers, the report said — heightening the importance of its implementation, which opponents have threatened to sue to delay or even stop.

"Debt service paid from the operating budget is ... expected to stabilize in the short term," the report said. "However, risks over the implementation of congestion pricing could have an impact on the MTA's capital program, either in the form of reducing planned spending or further reliance one existing types of debt which are paid from operating revenues."

One good-government watchdog praised the report.

"The State Comptroller's thorough report on MTA debt again shows that the best way to pay for MTA borrowing is through dedicated revenue streams like congestion pricing," said Rachael Fauss, senior policy advisor for Reinvent Albany.

"Making the MTA use its own its resources — which come largely from riders' fares — to pay for its capital plans is what got the MTA in trouble in the past. It is good news that new state revenues are helping to lessen the burden on riders to pay for debt."

In other news:

    • Jordan Neely's funeral is today in Harlem. (Gothamist)
    • Several outlets (including Streetsblog) covered the City Council's long-awaited permanent outdoor dining reveal. (City & State, NY Times, NY Daily News, CBS New York)
    • Everyone is talking about Citi Bike. (Insider, NY Post, NBC New York)
    • A 16-year-old speeding in a BMW killed his 14-year-old passenger. (NY Daily News)
    • DSNY's latest trash innovation: waste bin requirements for bodegas and restaurants. (NY Times)
    • NYC business leaders think now is the time for the MTA to win concessions from labor. (City & State)
    • Steve Cohen wields parking in his fight against a Willets Point soccer stadium. (The City)
    • Transit isn't just for commuting anymore. (Curbed)
    • Look At This Asshole’s Asshole Truck. (Defector)
    • FAIL CITY: A long-abandoned RV in Williamsburg is finally gone...  after the local councilman stepped in:

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