When it came to transportation (“Cuomo Delivers State of the Island Address,” Jan. 18), Cuomo’s speech made for some great sound bites, but provided little substance. Cuomo failed to give any specifics of how he will come up with the $7.3 billion he still owes to fully fund the $27 billion 2015–19 MTA Five Year Capital Plan, $1 billion to finish the LIRR Eastside Access to Grand Central Terminal, $6 billion for New York’s share of the $24 billion Amtrak Gateway Tunnel project from New Jersey to Penn Station and $2 billion for construction of the LIRR Main Line Third Track. Cuomo could not even find $12 million to prevent the Nassau Inter County Express (NICE) Bus from closing the Rockville Centre Bus depot and eliminate service on several routes.
Also needed is future electrification of LIRR service on the Port Jefferson branch from Huntington to Port Jefferson ($360 million), on the Montauk line from Babylon to Speonk ($360 million), on the Ronkonkoma line from Ronkonkoma to Yaphank ($120 million) and on the Oyster Bay line from Oyster Bay to Mineola ($120 million). This does not include several hundred million for a new storage yard on the Port Jefferson branch between Huntington and Port Jefferson to support electric multiple unit MU cars. All would provide support for a one-seat ride to Grand Central Terminal, making the LIRR more attractive to riders.
Suffolk County needs $100 million for the Route 110 Bus Rapid Transit and $50 million for the Nicolls Road BRT (connecting Stony Brook University and Village of Patchogue). Nassau County needs $400 million for the Nassau Hub BRT.
Cuomo reminds me of the character Wimpy who famously said, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” Tuesday never seems to come for commuters and taxpayers.
Larry Penner is a transportation historian and advocate who worked for the United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration New York Region 2 Office for 31 years.