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MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast Seeks Support For $32B Capital Plan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority asked business leaders Tuesday to support the agency's $32 billion capital plan despite a $15 billion funding shortfall and a state board's veto.

MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Thomas Prendergast told the Association for a Better New York that that the economic health of the region depends on maintaining and improving New York's subways, buses and commuter rail lines, adding, "the growth of New York City into what it is today would not have occurred without its transit system.''

MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast Seeks Support For $32B Capital Plan

MTA officials released the $32 billion plan for the years 2015 to 2019 last week. After the state review board's veto, the MTA must now revise the plan and re-submit it.

It has not been determined how the $15 billion shortfall might be funded.

The plan includes funding for the Second Avenue subway line, the completion of the so-called East Side Access project providing a faster commute from Long Island and Queens and four new Metro-North stations in the Bronx.

The five-year plan also includes upgrades to the existing system like installing countdown clocks in more subway stations to let riders know when to expect a train.

Such clocks were unimagined during his own youth, Prendergast said, but for millennials "it's not an enhancement, it's an expectation.''

Prendergast said the capital program "is far from a wish list. It's a needs list. You have an asset here that needs to be maintained.''

"I can guarantee it's not a wish list, it's built on three parts: renew, enhance and expand," Prendergat said.

Mitchell Moss, director of New York University's Rudin Center for Transportation, believes the $15 billion gap will be filled, WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported.

"If there is enough willingness in Albany to do the intelligent, thoughtful things," Moss said. "They have gotta find revenues."

The MTA carries 8.7 million riders a day on New York City subways and buses plus the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road commuter lines.

The LIRR, which shares a tunnel under the East River with Amtrak, may be affected by Amtrak's need to perform extensive repairs on its New York-area tunnels because of damage caused by Superstorm Sandy two years ago.

The MTA said in a statement, "We're reviewing the engineers' recommendations that Amtrak has accepted, and will be in close communication with them about next steps.''

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