NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new report says a lack of oversight at the MTA led to soaring construction and labor costs of megaprojects.
The report by the Regional Plan Association found the costs for the Second Avenue subway, the No. 7 line extension and the in-progress East Side Access project were more than twice as high as in cities like London, Paris and Los Angeles.
The report pointed to overstaffing, lack of oversight and a flawed procurement process, concluding the cost overruns threaten the MTA’s growth.
The report sends a strong message to the MTA that they cannot continue business as usual, says Jon Orcutt with the transit reform advocacy group TransitCenter.
“When we raise money from fares, from taxes, potentially new tolls that the governor is talking about, they have to show progress on this issue to win some public trust back and to make sure we can efficiently rebuild the system,” Orcutt said.
The report says the MTA’s very survival relies on its ability to reform the bureaucracy and challenge deeply entrenched union policies that drive up overtime and healthcare costs.
Orcutt believes systemic change at the MTA won’t come easy.
“Nobody wants to challenge the unions, the MTA doesn’t want to fight with its contractors but a lot of the stuff is Management 101 in terms of making one leader in charge of a project and not having five different divisions and six different departments putting in their two cents once the thing is already started,” Orcutt said.
Orcutt said as the MTA tries to rebuild they need to convince riders that they are getting bang for their buck.
“We continue to pay a New York premium on top of the legitimate costs of rebuilding transit, so we don’t rebuild the subway as quickly, we don’t get the needed expansions, don’t buy more buses for places that need them,” he said. “It’s not good, we have to fix this.”
A spokesman for the MTA says Chairman Joe Lhota has created a task force to aggressively attack skyrocketing capital construction costs.