Joint Legislative Public Hearing on 2018-2019 Executive Budget Proposal: Topic Transportation - Testimonies

Hearing Event and Video:
https://www.nysenate.gov/calendar/public-hearings/january-25-2018/joint-legislative-public-hearing-2018-2019-executive-budget

Transcript:

                                                                  1

 1  BEFORE THE NEW YORK STATE SENATE FINANCE
    AND ASSEMBLY WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEES
 2  ----------------------------------------------------

 3          JOINT LEGISLATIVE HEARING

 4             In the Matter of the
            2018-2019 EXECUTIVE BUDGET
 5              ON TRANSPORTATION
    
 6  ----------------------------------------------------

 7  
                             Hearing Room B
 8                           Legislative Office Building
                             Albany, New York
 9  
                             January 25, 2018
10                           9:37 a.m.
    
11
    
12  PRESIDING:

13           Senator Catharine M. Young
             Chair, Senate Finance Committee
14  
             Assemblywoman Helene E. Weinstein
15           Chair, Assembly Ways & Means Committee
    
16  PRESENT:

17           Senator Liz Krueger 
             Senate Finance Committee (RM)
18  
             Assemblyman Robert Oaks
19           Assembly Ways & Means Committee (RM)
    
20           Senator Diane J. Savino
             Vice Chair, Senate Finance Committee
21  
             Assemblyman David Gantt
22           Chair, Assembly Committee on Transportation
    
23  

24

                                                                  2

 1  2018-2019 Executive Budget
    Transportation
 2  1-25-18
    
 3   PRESENT:  (Continued)
    
 4           Assemblywoman Amy Paulin 
             Chair, Assembly Committee on Corporations,
 5             Authorities & Commissions
    
 6           Assemblyman Phil Steck
    
 7           Assemblyman James Skoufis
    
 8           Senator Timothy Kennedy 
    
 9           Assemblyman Steven Otis
    
10           Senator Martin Malave Dilan
    
11           Assemblywoman Vivian E. Cook
    
12           Assemblywoman Nily Rozic
    
13           Assemblyman David G. McDonough  
    
14           Senator Gustavo Rivera
    
15           Assemblywoman Pamela J. Hunter
    
16           Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman
    
17           Senator Leroy Comrie
    
18           Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis
    
19           Senator Todd Kaminsky
    
20           Assemblyman Robert C. Carroll
    
21           Assemblywoman Earlene Hooper
    
22           Assemblyman Kevin Byrne
    
23           Assemblyman John T. McDonald III 
    
24           Assemblywoman Jaime R. Williams
    

                                                                  3

 1  2018-2019 Executive Budget
    Transportation
 2  1-25-18
    
 3   PRESENT:  (Continued)
    
 4           Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon
    
 5           Assemblyman David Buchwald
    
 6           Assemblyman Félix W. Ortiz
    
 7  
    
 8                   LIST OF SPEAKERS
    
 9                                   STATEMENT QUESTIONS
    
10  
    Joseph J. Lhota
11  Chairman 
    Veronique Hakim
12  Managing Director 
    Robert Foran
13  Chief Financial Officer
    Donald Spero
14  Deputy CFO
    Phillip Eng
15  Chief Operating Officer
    Metropolitan Transportation 
16   Authority (MTA)                          8       13
    
17  Paul Karas 
    Acting Commissioner 
18  New York State Department 
     of Transportation                      247      254                 
19  
    Theresa Egan
20  Executive Deputy Commissioner
    New York State Department
21   of Motor Vehicles                      362      366
    
22  Matthew J. Driscoll
    Acting Executive Director
23  NYS Thruway Authority                   400      405
    
24

                                                                  4

 1  2018-2019 Executive Budget
    Transportation
 2  1-25-18
    
 3                   LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued 
    
 4                                  STATEMENT  QUESTIONS
    
 5  Bernhard Meyer
    Canaan Supt. of Highways
 6  President
    NYS Association of Town
 7   Superintendents of Highways
        -and-
 8  Wayne E. Bonesteel
    Rensselaer Co. Engineer
 9  Legislative Cochair
    NYS County Highway
10   Superintendents Association         440
    
11  Alec Slatky 
    Policy Analyst
12  AAA New York State                   449         456
    
13  Scott Wigger
    Executive Director
14  Railroads of New York                468
    
15  Lee Weitz 
    Deputy Director 
16  New York Aviation 
     Management Association              472
17  
    Robert Puckett
18  President
    NYS Telecommunications
19   Association                         477         482
    
20  Bill Carpenter
    CEO, Rochester-Genesee Regional
21   Transportation Authority
    President, New York Public 
22   Transit Association                 485
    
23  
    
24

                                                                  5

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Good morning.  

 2          I am Helene Weinstein, chair of the 

 3          New York State Assembly's Ways and Means 

 4          Committee, cochair of today's hearing.  

 5                 Today we begin the fourth in a 

 6          series of hearings conducted by the joint 

 7          fiscal committees regarding the Governor's 

 8          proposed budget for fiscal year 2018-2019.  

 9          The hearings are conducted pursuant to the 

10          New York State Constitution and the 

11          Legislative Law.

12                 Today the Assembly Ways and Means 

13          Committee and the Senate Finance Committee 

14          will hear testimony concerning the 

15          Governor's budget proposal for 

16          transportation.

17                 I'll now introduce the members of 

18          the Assembly who are here, and Senator 

19          Young, chair of the Senate Finance 

20          Committee, will introduce members from the 

21          Senate.  In addition, our ranking member of 

22          Ways and Means, Bob Oaks, will introduce 

23          members from his conference.

24                 So we have with us Assemblywoman 

                                                                  6

 1          Hunter, Assemblyman Carroll, Assemblywoman 

 2          Cook, Assemblywoman Rozic, our chair of our 

 3          Corporations Committee, Assemblywoman 

 4          Paulin.

 5                 Mr. Oaks?  

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Yes, and we're 

 7          also joined by Assemblywoman Malliotakis.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Good morning, 

 9          everyone.  I'm Senator Catharine Young, and 

10          I'm chair of the Senate Standing Committee 

11          on Finance.  Very pleased to be here today, 

12          and I'd like to welcome my colleagues.  We 

13          have Senator Diane Savino, who is vice 

14          chair of the Finance Committee; Senator Liz 

15          Krueger, who is ranking member; Senator 

16          Marty Dilan, who is ranker on the 

17          Transportation Committee; Senator Todd 

18          Kaminsky; and Senator Gustavo Rivera.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

20          Hyndman is also with us.

21                 Before introducing the first 

22          witness, I'd like to remind all of the 

23          witnesses testifying today to keep your 

24          statements within your allotted time limit 

                                                                  7

 1          so that everyone can be afforded the 

 2          opportunity to speak.  Witnesses are 

 3          reminded that the testimony which has been 

 4          submitted in writing will be made a part of 

 5          this hearing's official transcript, thus 

 6          there's no need to read your testimony 

 7          verbatim.  In fact, we would prefer a 

 8          concise summary of the highlights of the 

 9          testimony, to allow members' questions to 

10          be more focused and productive.  

11                 And the witnesses are also reminded 

12          that their remarks should be limited to the 

13          time remaining on the countdown clocks here 

14          in the hearing room.  It's important so 

15          that the witnesses later on have an 

16          opportunity to testify also.

17                 Likewise, I just want to remind our 

18          members to keep an eye on the countdown 

19          clocks, and that the time frames are both 

20          for questions and answers.  So don't try to 

21          sneak in a question as the clock goes to 

22          zero.

23                 Right now we'd like to thank 

24          everyone in advance for adhering to these 

                                                                  8

 1          guidelines.  

 2                 Cathy, do you have any opening 

 3          remarks before we call the first witness?  

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  No, I'm looking 

 5          forward to hearing the testimony.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So now we 

 7          will call our first witness.  At the table 

 8          is MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota and -- I have 

 9          two other people, and maybe you can 

10          introduce who's with you perhaps before you 

11          start.

12                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I will, Madam 

13          Chair.  Thank you.  

14                 And good morning, Senator Young, 

15          Assemblymember Weinstein, and members of 

16          the Senate and Assembly who are here this 

17          morning.  As was mentioned, I'm Joe Lhota, 

18          I'm chairman of the Metropolitan 

19          Transportation Authority.  

20                 With me today to my left, your 

21          right, is Ronnie Hakim, the managing 

22          director of the MTA.  To my right, your 

23          left, is Bob Foran; he is our chief 

24          financial officer.  Next to Bob, right next 

                                                                  9

 1          to Bob, is Don Spero; he's the deputy chief 

 2          financial officer.  And over on my far left 

 3          is Phil Eng, who is the chief operating 

 4          officer of the MTA.  

 5                 First let me say how pleased we are 

 6          to be here and also how pleased we are that 

 7          the Governor's proposed budget includes a 

 8          year-to-year increase in our operating 

 9          funds.  The MTA will receive more than 

10          $4.8 billion from all state sources, an 

11          increase of $334 million over the fiscal 

12          year '18 enacted budget.

13                 The Governor has increased state 

14          support to the MTA in all eight of his 

15          budgets.  As a result, annual operating 

16          support from New York State to the MTA has 

17          increased by $1.1 billion over the past 

18          nine years.

19                 The Governor's leadership was 

20          instrumental in securing the 2015-2019 

21          capital program.  At nearly $30 billion, it 

22          is the single largest investment ever in 

23          infrastructure at the MTA.  New York 

24          State's contribution, $8.6 billion, is many 

                                                                  10

 1          times greater than under any other previous 

 2          capital program.  

 3                 The Executive Budget includes 

 4          capital and operating support to fully fund 

 5          the state's half of the $836 million Subway 

 6          Action Plan.  We introduced this plan in 

 7          July to stabilize and then modernize our 

 8          subway system, and we're implementing the 

 9          plan and we're in the first phase.

10                 It includes the most aggressive and 

11          concentrated preventive maintenance program 

12          in the MTA's history.  And thanks to all of 

13          our transit workers, it is starting to show 

14          better results.  Last year, major 

15          incidents, which delay 50 or more trains, 

16          went from 81 in June, when we began to 

17          implement the plan, to 50 in December.  

18          That's a 38 percent improvement.  Comparing 

19          this same time frame, major signal 

20          incidents went down from 25 to 23, which is 

21          an 8 percent improvement, and major track 

22          incidents went from 19 to 7, a 63 percent 

23          improvement.  

24                 Although we're seeing signs of 

                                                                  11

 1          stabilization on the subway system, the 

 2          Long Island Railroad, however, I believe is 

 3          off to a poor start this year -- as I'm 

 4          sure all of you know, and I'm sure I will 

 5          get questions about that.  And as I've said 

 6          publicly and I will state here, I'm not 

 7          happy about it.  The status quo there 

 8          absolutely cannot continue, which is why 

 9          we're in the process of taking corrective 

10          steps at the LIRR.  

11                 Not many people know this, but the 

12          MTA is in the midst of the most aggressive 

13          cost-cutting program in its history.  We've 

14          cut $1.7 billion out of our operating 

15          budget, through massive consolidations and 

16          internal efficiencies, and we expect that 

17          number to grow to $2.3 billion by the year 

18          2021.  That's more than $2 billion a year, 

19          every year, that we will use to add or 

20          improve service and keep fares low.  

21                 Despite these efforts, funding the 

22          MTA operations is a constant challenge.  

23          Fare and toll revenue makes up only a 

24          portion of the costs needed to run the 

                                                                  12

 1          system.  In our case, it's about 50 

 2          percent, which means on average the 

 3          customer's fare covers less than half the 

 4          cost of their ride.  That's why the MTA 

 5          needs a steady income stream to continue to 

 6          maintain a state of good repair while at 

 7          the same time upgrading and expanding the 

 8          system.  Put plainly, we need a sustainable 

 9          financial model.  

10                 In that regard, we're encouraged by 

11          the recently released Fix NYC report, which 

12          recommends providing additional funding to 

13          the MTA by defining a geographic "pricing 

14          zone" for cars and trucks entering certain 

15          parts of New York City, installing 

16          technology around the zone, and 

17          establishing fees and hours.  

18                 Madam Chairs, we appreciate the 

19          support you've given to the MTA in the 

20          past, and thank all of the members for your 

21          continuing support.  Thank you for your 

22          time today, and we're now happy to answer 

23          any and all questions that you have.  

24                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

                                                                  13

 1          your brevity.  I'm sure there are a number 

 2          of members who have questions.  

 3                 First we go to our Corporations 

 4          chair, Amy Paulin.  Before we do that, I 

 5          just want to acknowledge we've also been 

 6          joined by Assemblyman Gantt, the chair of 

 7          our Transportation Committee.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  And Assemblyman 

 9          Byrne has joined us.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Ms. Paulin.

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Thank you so 

12          much.  

13                 I have several questions, the first 

14          on the Subway Action Plan which we've heard 

15          so much about.  I wonder if you could 

16          describe in a little more detail about how 

17          many people you intend to hire, the 

18          specific work that will be performed, the 

19          timeline, and how you will measure the 

20          success of the program.  When will you deem 

21          the Subway Action Plan a success?

22                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Assemblymember, 

23          thank you for the question.  The Subway 

24          Action Plan, which we rolled out in the 

                                                                  14

 1          last week of July, one month after I came 

 2          back to the MTA, includes hiring up to 

 3          1,000 more workers at the MTA.

 4                 And why?  If you go back to 

 5          2009-2010, when we had a fiscal crisis 

 6          throughout the State of New York due to the 

 7          general economic conditions, we had severe 

 8          budget cuts that were implemented as well 

 9          as service cuts, many of whom that have 

10          come back.  One of the things that didn't 

11          come back were the workers, who when they 

12          either retired or attrited, we never 

13          replaced them.  And by not replacing them, 

14          maintenance and continual upkeep of the 

15          system was stretched out.  Something that 

16          needed to be maintained on a six-month 

17          basis may have been pushed out to nine 

18          months or 12 months.  

19                 And it took seven years, and then 

20          all of a sudden that lack of maintenance, 

21          that care, and especially for a system many 

22          parts of which are older than a hundred 

23          years old, not having that maintenance kept 

24          up to speed, things started to fall apart.  

                                                                  15

 1                 With that, the Subway Action Plan is 

 2          a plan that is focused on the core 

 3          important things that need to happen.  We 

 4          need to make sure that the rail is in a 

 5          state of good repair, we need to make sure 

 6          that all of our signals are up and running 

 7          and working properly, as well as the 

 8          switches.  But also, combined with that, 

 9          making sure that our transit workers are 

10          deployed, those who work on the system, who 

11          repair the system, are deployed closer to 

12          where problems may happen.  So that we've 

13          started to redeploy folks in various 

14          different parts all over the city so that 

15          they can get there quickly.  

16                 A perfect example of that is, you 

17          know, if we have a signal-related problem 

18          in Lower Manhattan, we want somebody there 

19          within 10 minutes, and they can either 

20          serve from Midtown to down to the Wall 

21          Street area very, very quickly, instead of 

22          having to come from Brooklyn or the Bronx 

23          at the end of the lines.  So it's a very 

24          simple concept.

                                                                  16

 1                 Now, we put together statistics, 

 2          data, metrics every month, we put them 

 3          online, we provide them to our board, about 

 4          all of the problems -- how many delays have 

 5          there been, where does it compare to what 

 6          it was the month before, the year before, 

 7          and all a period of time --

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  No, 

 9          understand -- understanding that we're 

10          doing better, I get that.  I'm just 

11          wondering about how will you deem the 

12          program a success.  And also there's a 

13          capital component of $348 million, so how 

14          does that fit into the plan?

15                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So to determine 

16          success, obviously I would love to be able 

17          to see Twitter feeds be a little bit more 

18          positive than they are.  It seems every 

19          time someone is delayed, everybody on 

20          board -- and we give them the opportunity 

21          to do that, since most of the trains now 

22          have wifi, the subways do.  

23                 But in any event, what we need to do 

24          is get to a situation where there are 

                                                                  17

 1          minimal to no delays.  In my entire life 

 2          being on the subway and being a New York 

 3          City resident going way back when, I can 

 4          tell you there have always been delays on 

 5          the system, but I don't want it anywhere 

 6          near what it experienced this past spring.  

 7          Which is why I decided to come back, 

 8          because it needs to get fixed and I'd like 

 9          the opportunity to do that.

10                 The capital component, the capital 

11          component is mostly about laying new rail.  

12          We are in the process of putting new rail 

13          throughout the entire system, the entire 

14          830 miles of the system.  And we're about 

15          halfway done.  We will be finished by the 

16          end of 2018.

17                 And the seamless rail system -- for 

18          those who have been on the subway recently, 

19          if you recall, many years ago there would 

20          be a bumpy ride, there would also be 

21          various different points in which the car 

22          would go dark for a few seconds.  Because 

23          of the way the rail worked and its 

24          connection to the third rail, there was a 

                                                                  18

 1          slight disconnect.  We're starting to see 

 2          less and less of that, and that welded rail 

 3          is most of the capital program.  

 4                 Ronnie, do you want to --

 5                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  Yeah, 

 6          I'll just add that as part of the capital 

 7          program, transit has a $16.7 billion 

 8          capital program.  The track program that 

 9          the chairman was just referring to is 

10          almost $2 billion of that program.  And the 

11          Subway Action Plan has a large operating 

12          budget component as well.  

13                 You asked about the additional 

14          resources.  We've hired, since the 

15          beginning of the Subway Action Plan, about 

16          a thousand more manpower and womanpower, 

17          and we're going to, depending on our 

18          available funding, add another thousand 

19          heads into 2018 as well, to bring those 

20          maintenance resources up.

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Thank you.  

22                 The next question has to do with 

23          funding.  The state in fact cut, in last 

24          year's budget, $65 million, which would 

                                                                  19

 1          have been -- which we were supposed to give 

 2          to offset the library component of the 

 3          payroll tax.  And we didn't restore that 

 4          money.  I know that you budgeted for the 

 5          $65 million and the increased growth from 

 6          the payroll tax, which is what you were 

 7          alluding to before.  

 8                 So what kind of accommodation are 

 9          you going to make with that severe budget 

10          cut?  

11                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So last year, 

12          as I think you mentioned, the $65 million 

13          was restored during the negotiation with 

14          the Legislature.

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Well, it was 

16          only restored for capital.  It wasn't 

17          restored for operating.

18                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  It was restored 

19          for capital, and we had pay-as-you-go 

20          capital in our operating budget.  We just 

21          switched it around so that we could use it 

22          for operating purposes.

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  And this 

24          year?  

                                                                  20

 1                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  And this year 

 2          we are -- I'm working with the current 

 3          budget director to have that $65 million 

 4          restored, and we're in the process of 

 5          discussing that during this 30-day 

 6          amendment period.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Thank you.

 8                 The next question has to do with -- 

 9          you know, I think we all read the Daily 

10          News article the other day.  And I did 

11          watch the committee meeting where one of 

12          the board members asked you about that 

13          article, and you responded that it was -- 

14          the information was prepared for a press 

15          conference.

16                 I'm really not -- you know, he then 

17          went on to ask why those -- if there was 

18          severe power outages, why that wasn't 

19          included in the information given to the 

20          board.  And I didn't really understand your 

21          response.  And I just wonder if you could 

22          elaborate why those numbers aren't included 

23          in the documents that are given to the 

24          board, and therefore the public.

                                                                  21

 1                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Sure.  What's 

 2          given to the board, based on the Subway 

 3          Action Plan, are breakages or problems 

 4          related to very, very specific issues.

 5                 So let's say, for example, we have 

 6          switch-related problems, we may have 

 7          door-related problems, we may have a whole 

 8          array of different problems.  And 

 9          everything is categories in that area.  In 

10          the switch area, it could be power or it 

11          could be something else.  But it's a subset 

12          of that.

13                 Power across the board -- power -- 

14          the whole issue of Con Edison and power is 

15          separate from the Subway Action Plan.  Back 

16          in April, there was a major power outage 

17          throughout the system, hundreds of 

18          thousands of our customers were impacted at 

19          one time.  That began an investigation 

20          separate from the MTA, with the Public 

21          Service Commission.  So it started long 

22          before that.

23                 The Subway Action Plan was not to 

24          deal with Con Ed.  So all the data that we 

                                                                  22

 1          collect is all about what is going on in 

 2          the system across the board.

 3                 The chamber was looking to do a 

 4          press conference sometime in August, in 

 5          early August, and they were interested in 

 6          all power-related issues relating to delays 

 7          and service disruptions.  And the number 

 8          that was originally given to them was just 

 9          purely a power number, but it didn't 

10          include service disruptions, it didn't 

11          include all of the delays.  And so what 

12          we're able to do is to take each one of the 

13          components and break them down and then be 

14          able to put all power-related issues 

15          together in one place.

16                 And the board actually does have the 

17          data where it was able to show Commissioner 

18          Weisbrod, who was asking that question of 

19          me during the hearing, where it was in the 

20          32 pages of metrics that we give out at 

21          every board meeting.  

22                 Nonetheless, in the process of 

23          putting all of that together, I want to 

24          also discuss what service disruptions mean.  

                                                                  23

 1          If we have a power surge and the power 

 2          surge has an impact on a MetroCard machine 

 3          and the MetroCard machine can't issue 

 4          MetroCards, I consider that a service 

 5          disruption.  The same thing will happen 

 6          with an elevator or an escalator.  And 

 7          we're working very hard to get as many 

 8          elevators and escalators working.  

 9                 But if the quality of the power 

10          coming down either dips too low or dips too 

11          high, it trips the elevator, in which case 

12          we've got to go and we've got to set it 

13          again.  That, to me, is a service 

14          disruption if someone can't do it.  

15                 So it was all added together.  

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  I understand 

17          what you're saying.  You know, I wonder, 

18          then -- you know, the Public Service 

19          Commission on January 18th published the 

20          report that the MTA and Con Edison did 

21          together, you know, following the disrupted 

22          power that you mentioned.  And there were 

23          198 events, 11 of which were outside the 

24          MTA/Con Edison region, they were in the 

                                                                  24

 1          Rockaways, LIRR, you know, the -- not the 

 2          LI -- yeah, well, the Long Island Power 

 3          Authority.  Three were due to MTA equipment 

 4          issues, 56 were unfounded, never reported 

 5          to Con Edison, leaving only 128, 75 percent 

 6          of which were blips -- you know, when you 

 7          see lights blink -- so they were seconds.  

 8                 So there were only 32 events that 

 9          Con Edison would consider, and you 

10          considered with them, power outages over a 

11          two and-a-half-year period.  

12                 So what I don't understand is how 

13          32 power outages, which were agreed to by 

14          Con Edison and the MTA going over that data 

15          together, could lead to a number like 

16          32,000.  You know, the extra three zeros 

17          just don't make any sense to me.  I get 

18          that there may be a different way of doing 

19          the math, but the impression that it gave 

20          to the larger community was that Con Edison 

21          was at fault, that power was at fault.  

22                 And what it does is it creates a 

23          distrust.  And it's unfortunate, you know, 

24          that it was done at a press conference 

                                                                  25

 1          where the public, the Governor, the 

 2          Legislature and your own board would be 

 3          under a misunderstanding of what really the 

 4          information is out there.  

 5                 So I just -- you know, I'm really 

 6          not asking, I just think that in the future 

 7          that we should be a lot more careful on how 

 8          we give out information to create a trust 

 9          if we expect the public to give their 

10          hard-earned dollars to fix a system which 

11          we know needs to be fixed.

12                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  If I may, when 

13          you have any -- what you described might be 

14          a blip or a shortage, and that particular 

15          outage affects 100 trains, all of which 

16          could have hundreds of thousands of people 

17          on it and that -- so it becomes a question, 

18          you know, do you count -- from my point of 

19          view, how many trains were delayed?  Was it 

20          one or is it a hundred?  

21                 I realize -- and I don't mean to 

22          stretch things out.  And I also would like 

23          to state that most of -- almost everything 

24          I'm doing in the Subway Action Plan has not 

                                                                  26

 1          anything to do with power, it has 

 2          everything to do with what I can control 

 3          within the subway system.  In fact, the 

 4          Subway Action Plan and power are two very, 

 5          very different things.  Power is not 

 6          included.  

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  I understand.  

 8          But I just think there was a 

 9          misunderstanding in terms of how the 

10          information -- because when people hear 

11          32,000, they think 32,000 separate events.  

12          And in fact there were 32 events over a 

13          two and-a-half-year period, not an annual 

14          period, and it's very misleading.

15                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Fair enough.  

16          We'll make sure it's clarified.

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Thank you.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Before we 

19          turn to the Senate, I just wanted to 

20          acknowledge that we've been joined by 

21          several new members from the Assembly:  

22          Assemblyman Skoufis, Assemblyman Buchwald, 

23          and Assemblyman Steck.  

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

                                                                  27

 1                 Thank you, Chairman Lhota, for being 

 2          here today.  We truly appreciate it.  And I 

 3          do have several questions and may have to 

 4          come back for a second round.

 5                 But we're asking the public to 

 6          invest billions of dollars into the system, 

 7          and there's no doubt, there's no doubt that 

 8          the system is falling apart, literally.  We 

 9          heard about the Summer of Hell, we've heard 

10          about all the breakdowns and all the 

11          different problems that have plagued the 

12          subways.

13                 I was interested to come across a 

14          New York Times article dated December 28, 

15          2017, and it's "The Most Expensive Mile of 

16          Subway Track on Earth."  And it talks about 

17          the fact that the average cost for one mile 

18          of subway track in the U.S. and across the 

19          world is $500 million per track mile, and 

20          in New York City the cost is seven times 

21          that.

22                 And I'll read you a little bit 

23          about -- just a bit of the article.  "An 

24          accountant discovered the discrepancy while 

                                                                  28

 1          reviewing the budget for new train 

 2          platforms under Grand Central Terminal in 

 3          Manhattan.  

 4                 "The budget showed that 900 workers 

 5          were being paid to dig caverns for the 

 6          platforms as part of a 3.5-mile tunnel 

 7          connecting the historic station to the Long 

 8          Island Rail Road.  But the accountant could 

 9          only identify about 700 jobs that needed to 

10          be done, according to three project 

11          supervisors.  Officials could not find any 

12          reason for the other 200 people to be 

13          there.  

14                 "'Nobody knew what those people were 

15          doing, if they were doing anything,' said 

16          Michael Horodniceanu, who was then the head 

17          of construction at the Metropolitan 

18          Transportation Authority, which runs 

19          transit in New York.  The workers were laid 

20          off, Mr. Horodniceanu said, but no one 

21          figured out how long they had been 

22          employed.  'All we knew is they were each 

23          being paid about $1,000 every day.'"

24                 So there were 200 people on the job 

                                                                  29

 1          site being paid $1,000 a day, and nobody 

 2          knew what they were doing.  

 3                 "The estimated cost of the Long 

 4          Island Railroad project, known as 'East 

 5          Side Access,' has ballooned to $12 million 

 6          or nearly $3.5 billion for each new mile of 

 7          track" -- as I said, seven times the 

 8          average elsewhere in the world.  "The 

 9          recently completed Second Avenue subway on 

10          Manhattan's Upper East Side and the 

11          extension of the No. 7 line to Hudson Yards 

12          also cost far above average, at $2.5 

13          billion and $1.5 billion per mile, 

14          respectively."

15                 So how can we ask people in New York 

16          State to give up their hard-earned money 

17          for expansion and billions of dollars of 

18          repairs to the system when it looks like 

19          nobody's watching the ship, when it looks 

20          like you're not watching costs and there's 

21          a lot of waste in the system?  And if we 

22          got our costs more in line with the 

23          national average, we could do so much more 

24          work.  So I'd like for you to address that, 

                                                                  30

 1          if you could, Mr. Chairman.

 2                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Senator, thank 

 3          you.

 4                 I too expressed the same sentiments 

 5          that you have.  When I came back to the 

 6          MTA, I wanted to find a way to make it more 

 7          efficient and more effective.  And we 

 8          worked very closely with the New York Times 

 9          in providing them the information for that 

10          article, because what we need to do -- and 

11          I started when I first got there putting 

12          together a task force on how to deal with 

13          these large projects, also to deal with 

14          procurement reform.  Also, as part of 

15          dealing with the large projects, trying to 

16          get more competition.  Not as many people 

17          bid on our large projects.  The number of 

18          bidders that we get, and working with the 

19          unions -- you know, we don't build the 

20          subways.  So when one of our guys went down 

21          and asked a question, Why are these people 

22          all here?  And the question {sic} is we 

23          need to be a whole heck of a lot more 

24          vigilant in how we go about doing that, 

                                                                  31

 1          working with the labor, working with the 

 2          construction trades, putting together 

 3          project labor agreements where we are on 

 4          top of every single penny that goes into 

 5          that.  

 6                 I don't want to be at an agency 

 7          that, you know, looks like it's the most 

 8          expensive to do business.  We are in the 

 9          process of changing the way the MTA 

10          operates.  Part of the Fix NYC report 

11          references that it's in three phases, but 

12          the first thing that has to happen is that 

13          the MTA has to get its act together.  I 

14          totally agree, it's now -- one of the 

15          reasons I came back is because I know how 

16          important the subway system is for the 

17          city, and how it works -- as well as the 

18          commuter rail lines -- they're for the 

19          entire region.  And if it works, the entire 

20          economy of the general New York area as 

21          well as the whole State of New York works.

22                 It's our job to fix it.  And you now 

23          can hold me accountable, from this point 

24          forward, to doing it.  Or from when I 

                                                                  32

 1          started in early July.  It needs to get 

 2          fixed, and we're in the process of doing 

 3          it.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Well, thank you, 

 5          Mr. Chairman.  With all due respect, that 

 6          article is about three weeks old.  So -- 

 7          and as you pointed out, you've been in 

 8          since July.  So when do you think that 

 9          these cost containments will start to take 

10          effect?  

11                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  The cost 

12          containments have started to take effect.  

13                 The article is all referenced items 

14          that were even older than that, and all 

15          things that happened prior to me coming 

16          back.  

17                 But be that as it may, it's not 

18          about pointing fingers.  What we've done, 

19          Janno Lieber is now the head of capital 

20          construction and the chief development 

21          officer.  Tremendous experience in the 

22          private sector.  He was the one who led the 

23          private sector forces that rebuilt the 

24          World Trade Center.  

                                                                  33

 1                 We're in the process of expanding 

 2          our -- the folks who will bid on our 

 3          business.  We're being very, very specific 

 4          about what it is we're requesting so that 

 5          we can prevent any change orders going 

 6          forward, or a numerous number of change 

 7          orders going forward.  

 8                 And we are -- you know, another 

 9          example that we have seen right now started 

10          this past summer.  We shut down a couple of 

11          stations for repair in Brooklyn, and they 

12          opened up early and under budget.  That's 

13          what I want to hear about the MTA going 

14          forward:  Early, getting it done quicker, 

15          and getting it under budget.  

16                 The same thing happened with the 

17          tunnel, the Montague Street Tunnel.  It was 

18          a project that actually was done three 

19          months early and actually came in under 

20          budget; the exact dollar amount I can give 

21          you at another time.

22                 Right, and it's a combination -- 

23          it's also -- they're all design-build.  The 

24          more we do with design-build, the better 

                                                                  34

 1          we're going to be in efficiently spending 

 2          taxpayer dollars.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

 4          Chairman.

 5                 Following up on that, there's a 

 6          section of the Governor's budget that would 

 7          create tax increment financing districts to 

 8          pay for the costs of the subway 

 9          improvements.  And I have several questions 

10          about that proposal, because I find it to 

11          be troubling and even problematic.  Because 

12          one of the questions I have, has an 

13          authority over municipalities' property tax 

14          ever been provided to an unelected board, 

15          as you are doing here?

16                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I don't know 

17          the answer to that specific question about 

18          whether the authority has.  It's happened 

19          in other states in the United States.  But 

20          whether it's happened in New York or not, I 

21          don't have that level of understanding of 

22          history.

23                 But it's also -- if I may describe 

24          what was included in the budget --

                                                                  35

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Sure.  Sure.

 2                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  -- with value 

 3          capture.  And I'll give one or two examples 

 4          of what's going on.  

 5                 We've spent billions and billions of 

 6          dollars putting in the Second Avenue 

 7          subway, and in the process of putting the 

 8          disinvestment in the ground, we're not 

 9          receiving any return on investment.  If you 

10          look at the reports that have come out from 

11          the real estate companies in New York, 

12          while the rest of New York City has been 

13          pretty constant in the value of the real 

14          estate, in and around the Yorkville area as 

15          well as other areas where the Second Avenue 

16          subway goes, there's been significant 

17          appreciation.  So in comparison to the 

18          comparison to the rest of the market, which 

19          has been flat, there is an appreciation in 

20          value.  

21                 And when there's that appreciation 

22          in value in other parts of the country and 

23          other parts of the world when large 

24          investments are made that enhances the 

                                                                  36

 1          value of the property, a portion of the 

 2          increment above the current property tax -- 

 3          we're not talking about reaching down into 

 4          the current property tax -- you create a 

 5          base, and then any amount that's achieved 

 6          above that which is derived, tied directly 

 7          to the appreciated value tied directly to 

 8          the investment in the ground, should be 

 9          shared between the municipality and the 

10          organization that's putting up the funds.  

11                 In which case the proceeds would 

12          then be used to, you know, keep fares and 

13          tolls down so there wouldn't need to be an 

14          increase in fare and tolls.  Not 

15          necessarily to put it back into just 

16          capital programs, but also to keep control 

17          of fare and toll increases.  

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Mr. Chairman, you 

19          said it's been done in other states, but 

20          you may be aware of the fact that New York 

21          State is a home rule state.  So has anyone 

22          checked as to whether such a scheme would 

23          violate the principle of home rule?  

24                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I'm not an 

                                                                  37

 1          attorney, so I will ask someone else to be 

 2          able to look at that for you.  But my 

 3          understanding is that -- in my experience 

 4          when I was deputy mayor of New York, even 

 5          though you think things are home rule, they 

 6          tend not to be if it's meant to be, you 

 7          know, done under state auspices.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Again, I would 

 9          stress that this is an unelected board.  

10          But shouldn't the TIF districts sunset once 

11          the MTA recoups the investment in the 

12          $100 million-plus capital project?

13                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I'm sorry?

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Shouldn't the TIF 

15          districts sunset once you recoup the 

16          investment in the $100 million-plus capital 

17          project?

18                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Well, you know, 

19          it depends how you define return on 

20          investment.  I think, you know, the subway 

21          system that was put in place on 

22          Lexington Avenue a hundred years ago 

23          continues to provide value there.  And 

24          shouldn't that help the riders at that 

                                                                  38

 1          time, shouldn't that money be used to 

 2          maintain the system?  So I'm not sure it 

 3          should just be limited to the return on 

 4          investment.

 5                 That being said, I'd like to return 

 6          to this board, unelected board.  As was 

 7          mentioned, all of the projects that would 

 8          go through here -- and I think there was a 

 9          dollar amount -- all of which would go 

10          through the Capital Program Review Board, 

11          of which there are representatives of the 

12          Governor, the Assembly, the Senate, and in 

13          the case of New York City, the mayor, all 

14          of whom have veto power.  

15                 And as part of going through the 

16          Capital Program Review Board, the question 

17          would be, is there going to be a value 

18          capture approach?  And if any one of the 

19          members has an issue with it or doesn't 

20          like the way it's structured, the Capital 

21          Program Review board has an opportunity to 

22          review that.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  But they're 

24          unelected.

                                                                  39

 1                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  The capital 

 2          Program Review Board is a -- I'm sorry, is 

 3          elected.  It's the Governor, it's the 

 4          Senate Majority Leader, it's the Speaker 

 5          and the Mayor of New York.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  No, the board 

 7          itself is an unelected board.  You may have 

 8          representatives on it from different 

 9          elected officials, but it's an unelected 

10          board.  So ...

11                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Okay.  I've 

12          always worked on the assumption that they 

13          follow the direction of the person who has 

14          named -- not, you know --

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  No.  Would -- one 

16          of the questions that I have also regarding 

17          this is would you seek to extend this 

18          authority?  Because right now it's for 

19          subdistricts strictly in New York City, I 

20          believe.  But would you seek to extend this 

21          authority to the rest of the MTA region in 

22          the event it proves effective in New York 

23          City?  

24                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  We have, under 

                                                                  40

 1          existing statute, the ability to do value 

 2          capture anywhere in the MTA region.  And 

 3          there's unanimity amongst the entire MTA 

 4          board that they would -- if we're going to 

 5          be using taxpayer dollars, we should try to 

 6          recoup some of that from any value that's 

 7          enhanced, wherever it may be.  

 8                 We would negotiate that directly 

 9          with the local communities who were 

10          involved anywhere in the region.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So you would look 

12          to extend this, possibly, this taxing 

13          authority by an unelected board, in other 

14          areas of the state.  

15                 Okay, thank you.  I'll come back.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  I want to 

17          mention that we've been joined by 

18          Assemblywoman Jaime Williams and Jo Anne 

19          Simon.  

20                 Normally I would let some of the 

21          members go first, but I want to pursue the 

22          line of questioning, the subject matter 

23          that Senator Young has been pursuing.

24                 Has this proposal that's in the 

                                                                  41

 1          Governor's budget for the value capture in 

 2          New York City been discussed, negotiated 

 3          with New York City?  

 4                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  You know, the 

 5          value capture, I've had discussions with 

 6          the members of the New York City -- who are 

 7          on the board of the MTA.  But I don't know 

 8          if there have been any discussions between 

 9          the executive branch and the administration 

10          in the city.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So are -- I'm 

12          not sure, since you weren't there, but were 

13          you aware that when this value capture 

14          concept was last put in place in New York 

15          City for the Hudson Rail Yards, that was a 

16          negotiated, agreed-to proposal that both 

17          the city, state, and the MTA board worked 

18          out?  And that was also looking at 

19          properties that were not yet developed, and 

20          there was clearly much more of a nexus 

21          between the extension of the 7 Line than 

22          this sort of open-ended situation here.

23                 In terms of the other proposals, as 

24          Senator Young said, the proposal for the 

                                                                  42

 1          East Side -- or, rather, the Long Island 

 2          Rail, the third rail, there's nothing in 

 3          this budget that talks about value capture 

 4          for that proposal; there isn't for the 

 5          Metro-North stations that are beyond 

 6          New York City.  Is there a reason why those 

 7          aren't included?

 8                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  In answer to 

 9          the -- there are two questions, I think.  

10          And the first one, if I may address you, 

11          brought up the Hudson Yards example.  And 

12          at the time it was the City of New York who 

13          came up with the funding for the building 

14          of the extension of the No. 7 train.  And 

15          it -- all of the funding for that came from 

16          the City of New York.  

17                 And there was talk prior to that of 

18          actually coming to the Legislature to 

19          create the separate fund, and it was 

20          determined let's just let the city put up 

21          the money and then move forward with it.  

22                 On the issue of out -- you know, the 

23          existing programs that are there, from my 

24          point of view we're talking about programs 

                                                                  43

 1          going forward.  We're not, you know -- if 

 2          you go to in reverse to projects, you know, 

 3          it -- we can only talk about going forward 

 4          in the future.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  And were any 

 6          of the -- talking about going forward, in 

 7          terms of going backwards, for many years 

 8          the -- during construction of the 

 9          Second Avenue subway, there were 

10          diminishment of value of those properties 

11          because of the construction.  Were those 

12          property owners given any subsidies by the 

13          MTA for the cause of the -- for the 

14          reduction of their value?

15                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  There was a 

16          very large community program dealing with 

17          businesses, especially those where the 

18          fronts were covered for a period of time.  

19          We had ombudsmen there, we spent money on 

20          advertising for them in helping them 

21          sustain their business during that period 

22          of time.

23                 You know, we did everything we can 

24          to work with the communities, as we've 

                                                                  44

 1          already started to as we continue the 

 2          extension of the Second Avenue subway up to 

 3          125th Street in its next phase, to work 

 4          with the communities going up and above.

 5                 As far as the -- you know, to my 

 6          knowledge, any diminishment in value was 

 7          adjusted through the assessed value during 

 8          that period of time.  So if their assessed 

 9          values went down, the amount of their tax 

10          paid would have also gone down.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So even if we 

12          were to say that it was okay to do value 

13          capture without the city's approval, as the 

14          Senator said, without the city's home rule 

15          on this legislation, you'd end up with a 

16          situation where the values went down 

17          because of construction in terms of the 

18          immediate area, so then the increase in 

19          value is in some way just getting back to 

20          where things were.  And then your -- so it 

21          would tax the value of the increase because 

22          of the decrease of all the years of 

23          construction, and then be taxing property 

24          values that are in fact -- can have very 

                                                                  45

 1          little relationship to the subway.

 2                 I just want to move on to the MTA 

 3          capital plan.  Could you give us a brief 

 4          update on where we are with the four 

 5          projects that you cite, East Side access, 

 6          Penn Station access, Second Avenue subway 

 7          Phase 2, and the Long Island Railroad third 

 8          track?  And are we on time, are we on 

 9          budget?

10                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So the specific 

11          projects that you spoke about, we'll start 

12          with East Side access.  East Side access, 

13          it's our expectation that it will open up 

14          in 2022.  It's on budget for its current -- 

15          you know, in its current value at this 

16          time.  

17                 And I encourage any members who 

18          would like to go down and see the tunnel 

19          that has been burrowed and the amount of 

20          work that's going on building out the 

21          platforms -- we recently had the new county 

22          executive from Nassau County, as well as 

23          Steve Bellone from Suffolk County, down 

24          there last week to see it, and I'll extend 

                                                                  46

 1          that offer to any member of the Legislature 

 2          as well to actually look at that program, 

 3          which will now allow the ability for folks 

 4          who come in from Long Island to go to the 

 5          Grand Central area.  

 6                 And it will have, I believe, an 

 7          enormously great impact to the economy of 

 8          Long Island in that those folks who live 

 9          around the Grand Central Terminal area who 

10          decide -- why they would want to do this is 

11          a different issue -- but if they want to 

12          decide to move to suburbia instead of, you 

13          know, here in Grand Central -- now you look 

14          North, with the ability of the Long Island 

15          Railroad coming into Grand Central, you 

16          also have the ability to look to the east.  

17          And I think that kind of level of 

18          competition will be helpful.

19                 Which is also part and parcel of the 

20          third track, why it's important to build 

21          both second track and third track.  Right 

22          now we are almost -- we are at volume 

23          capacity on the Long Island Railroad with 

24          having two tracks.  Basically all the 

                                                                  47

 1          trains go in in the morning on both sides, 

 2          going in in the morning, and we need to 

 3          have a third track so that we can start 

 4          having more reverse commutes.  We're having 

 5          a significant problem, we're finding more 

 6          and more people are actually in the City of 

 7          New York but are working in Nassau County.  

 8          Nassau County is finding that as well.  So 

 9          that's a reason why we need to do that.  

10                 Second track, it's pretty obvious.  

11          If you only have one track, you can only 

12          have one train going on it in one 

13          direction.  And the Long Island Railroad 

14          needs to be a lot more robust to get as 

15          many cars off the road as possible.

16                 Penn Station access, is that one of 

17          the ones you asked about?

18                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Right, the 

19          Penn Station access and the extension of 

20          the Second Avenue subway to 125th.

21                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So Penn Station 

22          access, some preliminary work has begun.  

23          This is going to allow the New Haven Line, 

24          as it goes through the Bronx, to have four 

                                                                  48

 1          separate stops in the Bronx, which will 

 2          allow people in the part of the Bronx that 

 3          are in what I would call a transit desert 

 4          in getting into the central business 

 5          district of New York City, would allow them 

 6          to be able to get in.

 7                 The rail line there is owned by 

 8          Amtrak.  The stations, you know, we're 

 9          working with them and negotiating with 

10          them.  We're also working with the city and 

11          city planning about where it would exactly 

12          be.  So that is in -- it's in its formative 

13          stages and it's continuing to move forward.  

14          It's important for that eastern part of the 

15          Bronx to be able to have better transit.

16                 And --

17                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  The second 

18          avenue subway from 96th to --

19                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  The 

20          Second Avenue subway.  So we're moving 

21          forward with that right now, moving forward 

22          with the Second Avenue subway Phase 2.  

23          We've got about $1.7 billion in there.  The 

24          planning is going on, the working in the 

                                                                  49

 1          community.  It will go from 96th Street to 

 2          125th street.  It will curve off of 

 3          Second Avenue to go to where it will 

 4          connect with the 4 and the 5, the IRT, on 

 5          the East Side, as well as where a 

 6          Metro-North station is at 125th Street.  We 

 7          are moving forward with that.

 8                 We are also -- there are some parts 

 9          of the tunnel that were built, quite 

10          honestly, 50 or so years ago, and we're 

11          looking at how to be able to incorporate 

12          that in so we can save money as we build 

13          the second tranche or the second phase of 

14          the Second Avenue subway.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  And at some 

16          point can you, after this hearing, provide 

17          the committee with the timeline and whether 

18          those projects are going to be within 

19          budget?

20                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Yes.  So the -- 

21          we will provide that.  But the major 

22          component of the funding of that guideline 

23          will be working with the federal government 

24          in getting -- you know, putting together a 

                                                                  50

 1          full funding grant agreement with the 

 2          Department of Transportation.  That is a 

 3          major, major component.  They will have a 

 4          vested interest in that.  And we'll work 

 5          with -- there's a -- you know, the new 

 6          folks that are part of the administration 

 7          in Washington.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

 9                 Senator Young?  

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

11                 We've been joined by Senator Leroy 

12          Comrie.  

13                 And our next speaker is Senator 

14          Marty Dilan.

15                 SENATOR DILAN:  Good morning.  Thank 

16          you, Madam Chairperson.  

17                 Good morning, Mr. Lhota.

18                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Good morning.

19                 SENATOR DILAN:  The Executive Budget 

20          proposes loosening procurement rules for 

21          MTA and to expedite the authority's 

22          procurement procedures.  And the 

23          Executive's budget would eliminate the 

24          15-day waiting period for public 

                                                                  51

 1          authorities after notifying the Empire 

 2          State Development of contracts of 

 3          $1 million or more with foreign entities.  

 4          It would also eliminate the sealed bidding 

 5          process and approval of your board for 

 6          contracts under $1 million.  It would also 

 7          eliminate the board's approval for the 

 8          Triborough Bridge Authority contracts under 

 9          a million.  It would authorize the MTA 

10          board to terminate or modify any service or 

11          funding agreement that does not have a 

12          defined duration or term longer than 

13          20 years.  

14                 It is my understanding that the MTA 

15          already has a hard time keeping costs down 

16          on their capital projects.  How will you be 

17          able to improve control if you're not 

18          required to comply with sealed bidding or 

19          board approval?

20                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So, you know, 

21          we're in the process right now, you know, 

22          in conjunction with the Subway Access Plan, 

23          we are using many of these expedited 

24          procurement approaches.  We then go to our 

                                                                  52

 1          board and inform them of what it is.  And 

 2          from my point of view, it's working very, 

 3          very efficiently and I'm making sure that 

 4          we spend each and every one of those 

 5          dollars appropriately.

 6                 You know, the threshold amount for 

 7          sealed bids -- you know, a sealed bid is 

 8          one -- it's a very competitive environment.  

 9          It's not one in which it gets negotiated 

10          after the fact.  You know, raising it from 

11          $100,000 to $1 million, you know, over time 

12          it's become a situation where it will 

13          reduce the amount of what's there.

14                 We always report directly to our 

15          board what it is that we are doing both -- 

16          on an open basis.  We don't do it without 

17          informing them.  We will continue to inform 

18          them.

19                 And the 15-day notice period, it's 

20          not clear that ESDC or the Department of 

21          Economic Development -- you know, there's 

22          nothing that happens during that 15-day 

23          waiting period.  So at that point I just 

24          want to really fully understand and truly 

                                                                  53

 1          understand exactly what it is and why is it 

 2          absolutely needed.  It just extends out.  

 3                 If we're in an emergency situation, 

 4          those 15 days can be quite significant.  

 5          That's two weeks.

 6                 SENATOR DILAN:  Approximately how 

 7          many contracts fall under the $1 million 

 8          threshold?

 9                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  That's a good 

10          question.  

11                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  Six 

12          percent.  The raising of the threshold, 

13          Senator, would impact about 6 percent of 

14          the money that we buy.  We have so many 

15          transactions, the vast majority of our 

16          transactions are all competitively bid 

17          through this sealed bid process.  And those 

18          that are not are then brought to our board 

19          for formal authorization and approval.  

20                 So this would really impact just a 

21          fraction of the amount of money that we 

22          spend on an annual basis.

23                 SENATOR DILAN:  How will these 

24          changes affect the MWBE contracting with 

                                                                  54

 1          the MTA?

 2                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  I 

 3          didn't quite hear the question.

 4                 SENATOR DILAN:  The question was how 

 5          will these changes affect the MWBE program 

 6          in contracts with your --

 7                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  It 

 8          would not.  It would not impact the goals 

 9          and the substantial work and investment 

10          that we make with our MW and disadvantaged 

11          business communities.

12                 SENATOR DILAN:  So overall, what is 

13          the benefit of this proposal?  

14                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  The benefit of 

15          the proposal is to expedite the -- it's 

16          time, being able to be able to expedite as 

17          quickly as possible.  In our system, time 

18          is important because if we need to do 

19          something, you know, it would be much 

20          better to do it in a much faster way.

21                 SENATOR DILAN:  Okay, thank you, 

22          Madam Chair, and I'll come back later.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

24          much, Senator.

                                                                  55

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

 2          Rozic.

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROZIC:  Thank you, 

 4          Madam Chair.  

 5                 It's good to see you again, 

 6          Mr. Chairman.  I'm going to move slightly 

 7          away from subways and talk about buses.  

 8                 When London enacted congestion 

 9          pricing, Transport for London added 300 new 

10          buses, new routes, increased reliability.  

11          If the FIX NYC plan is to become a reality 

12          in New York, we will at minimum need 

13          significant improvements to bus service, 

14          especially in my district.  As you know, I 

15          don't have a single subway or train 

16          station.

17                 So what is your plan, or the MTA's 

18          plan, to make rapid improvements to bus 

19          service in order to convince us in the 

20          Legislature that we should be in favor of 

21          the Fix NYC plan?  

22                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So, 

23          Assemblymember, thank you for that 

24          question.  I am personally committed to 

                                                                  56

 1          reversing the trend in bus ridership.  I 

 2          believe bus ridership is down due directly 

 3          to congestion.  Buses are slowed down not 

 4          just in the central business district, but 

 5          throughout the entire city.  

 6                 And I think it's important, as the 

 7          Fix NYC panel put together its first 

 8          phase -- the first phase is basically, one, 

 9          MTA contract together, phase 2 is also part 

10          of that.  Before you get to phase 2, it's 

11          also we need to have the laws enforced, we 

12          need to get the traffic moving as best we 

13          possibly can in doing that.  

14                 We have gone out, we've awarded, 

15          knowing full well that buses need to be 

16          expanded and newer buses -- we have 

17          actually a photograph over here of a new 

18          electric, 100 percent electric bus so that 

19          as we go forward to acquire new buses, 

20          they're going to be environmentally safe 

21          and sound.  And in this particular case, 

22          they are extraordinarily all electric.  And 

23          we're testing them out now, and we're going 

24          to expand that proposal later this year.

                                                                  57

 1                 The reason why we're testing it is 

 2          we want to make sure how the batteries 

 3          operate in the weather that we have in 

 4          New York, the peaks and valleys.  Batteries 

 5          have a unique ability to drain themselves 

 6          when it's much colder.  And so we're 

 7          working with them now, and to date they 

 8          have been working very, very successfully.

 9                 As far as routes are concerned, I'll 

10          work with you, I'll work with your office 

11          about what routes need to be changed.  

12          Because, you know, over time the 

13          demographics throughout the New York 

14          metropolitan area are changing.  And with 

15          that, also routes need to change.  Where 

16          are the people living?  Where do routes 

17          need to be expanded, where do routes need 

18          to be -- and in some cases may not be 

19          needed any longer, and where can we re-look 

20          at them?  We do need to do that.  We do 

21          that in conjunction with New York City.  

22          New York City Department of Transportation 

23          and the MTA work very closely on where the 

24          buses will be, both the regular buses that 

                                                                  58

 1          will stay within the boroughs as well as 

 2          the long-distance buses that will come in 

 3          in the morning during the commutes and the 

 4          evening during the peak hours.  

 5                 You know, I believe that buses are 

 6          going to be a significant part of the 

 7          result of congestion pricing.  

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROZIC:   So do you -- 

 9          sorry, because I'm running out of time.  Do 

10          you see the bus action plan happening this 

11          year, being released this year?  How are 

12          you identifying those outer borough 

13          projects that need to happen?  And is there 

14          funding in this budget or do you expect it 

15          in the 21-day, 30-day amendments in order 

16          to make those improvements?

17                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So if I may, 

18          you used the term "bus access plan."  And 

19          I'm trying to avoid as many action plans as 

20          possible from the point of view that I 

21          don't -- I also want to find the best way 

22          to be, as I said, efficient and effective.  

23                 But be that as it may --

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROZIC:  They're not my 

                                                                  59

 1          words, they're Andy Byford's words, so.

 2                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Okay.  Maybe 

 3          what Andy was talking about there was, in a 

 4          sense, looking at the route system and then 

 5          figuring out how to do it.  That doesn't 

 6          necessarily require a whole lot of money; 

 7          it does take time and needs to work with 

 8          the communities -- community hearings, 

 9          community meetings.  And as you probably 

10          know even better than I, trying to get a 

11          community to agree on any one thing is 

12          always hard to do.  But we will continue to 

13          do that.

14                 We have, in the budget at this time, 

15          the -- hold on one second.  We currently 

16          have, in the current capital program, $1.2 

17          to $1.3 billion to purchase new buses, 

18          either electric or hybrid electric buses.  

19          They're currently in the budget, the RFPs 

20          are being worked on as we speak.  And all 

21          of that money will be used to be able to 

22          expand the bus service.

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROZIC:  And I'll come 

24          back for a second round, but just real 

                                                                  60

 1          quick, if you could give us an update on 

 2          the Freedom Ticket pilot that the MTA has 

 3          floated in previous years.  And we expect 

 4          it soon, this year?  What's the timeline?  

 5                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  We are working 

 6          on it as we speak and working on the parts 

 7          of -- for those who don't know the Freedom 

 8          Ticket, it would be having New York City 

 9          residents be able to take it where there 

10          may be a commuter line, in this particular 

11          case the Long Island Railroad, coming in 

12          and then be able to get on and have a 

13          pricing structure that's favorable to or 

14          better for them.  And we're working on that 

15          now, and we're very, very close.  I fully 

16          expect it to happen this year.  

17                 And my expectation is sooner than -- 

18          when I say "this year," don't think about 

19          it as the end of the year, it can happen 

20          relatively soon.

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROZIC:  Okay.  Thank 

22          you.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

24                 Senator Todd Kaminsky.

                                                                  61

 1                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Thank you, Madam 

 2          Chairwoman.  

 3                 Chairman Lhota, thank you for 

 4          acknowledging before that the poor service 

 5          of the Long Island Railroad of late has 

 6          been of concern to you.  

 7                 Just kind of want to bring the point 

 8          home and read to you an email that I 

 9          received -- and I receive scores of these 

10          every day, along with tweets and many other 

11          forms of communication -- that really 

12          underline how bad things have gotten.  And 

13          this is from a gentleman named Christian 

14          from Rockville Centre.  

15                 He says:  "Dear Senator Kaminsky, 

16          I've been commuting from Rockville Centre 

17          to my job in Manhattan for 31 years.  This 

18          year, my commuting experience on the LIRR 

19          ranks as the absolute worst.  

20                 "First there was the string of 

21          derailments at the beginning of the year, 

22          each wreaking havoc for at least a week.  

23          Then there was the Summer of Hell.  Last 

24          week I began my new routine.  Three times 

                                                                  62

 1          now the train has been either delayed or 

 2          shortened.  

 3                 "This morning I tried the 703, but 

 4          it was canceled, no explanation.  Instead 

 5          we were accommodated on another train 

 6          making an extra stop, resulting in a very 

 7          crowded train.  Then this train was 

 8          canceled in Jamaica and we had to wait to 

 9          board a different train to take us in the 

10          city.  

11                 "For what we pay a month, we should 

12          be able to expect a seat and courteous 

13          conditions.  We should also be able to 

14          expect timely explanations about service 

15          delays.  Although there was an excuse 

16          earlier this year, there is none for the 

17          terrible service we have been experiencing 

18          over the last month."  

19                 And I took Christian's email to 

20          heart, and I kind of assembled in graphic 

21          form the cancellations over the last three 

22          months versus a year ago, and this is what 

23          we see (displaying posterboard).  And I 

24          think it's kind of starkly evident what's 

                                                                  63

 1          been going on.  

 2                 What can I tell and what would you 

 3          like to tell the Christians and other 

 4          people like him on Long Island who depend 

 5          on the Long Island Railroad every day and 

 6          have never seen things this bad?  

 7                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Senator, I 

 8          appreciate it.  And as you know, prior to 

 9          even thinking about coming to this hearing, 

10          I too saw that data.  You said the source 

11          of that was MTA Long Island Railroad.  I 

12          look at that data on a daily basis.  And as 

13          I've said before, and I'll say it again, I 

14          am not happy with it.  I have gone out to 

15          the island, I've been on the Long Island 

16          Railroad myself.  And there is a lot of -- 

17          there are a lot of -- the lack of urgency, 

18          more than anything else, is the thing that 

19          concerns me the most.  

20                 And we've started to work on that, 

21          and we've started to make some personnel 

22          changes, and we're going to continue that 

23          process.  

24                 I know the letter stated the summer, 

                                                                  64

 1          but -- we've actually talked about this.  I 

 2          mean, if we could have what happened during 

 3          the summer happen all the time, there were 

 4          minimal delays.  I mean, it was the fear of 

 5          the summer because of what happened with 

 6          Amtrak.  That same level of vigilance needs 

 7          to be applied 365 days a year, not just 

 8          because there was going to be outages in 

 9          Penn Station due to work being done by 

10          Amtrak.  

11                 That said, you know, we -- in 

12          addition to that, there was a reference 

13          about communication.  Nothing concerns me 

14          more than communicating with our customers 

15          about exactly why and what is happening and 

16          what are the options available.  

17                 First off, there should be regular 

18          communications -- even if they're on time, 

19          there should be regular communications.  We 

20          need to enhance the communications, we need 

21          it centralized.  And we will have, in our 

22          next capital budget, money to put together 

23          to have what I would call a command post, 

24          where we could all be together, like we 

                                                                  65

 1          have on other sides of our system.  You 

 2          have my word that this will get fixed.  

 3                 While I mentioned I was born in the 

 4          Bronx, between eighth grade and high school 

 5          I lived on Long Island, and I know how 

 6          important the Long Island Railroad is and 

 7          what it means for people who commute in.  

 8          You have my word.  This concerns me and it 

 9          bothers me.

10                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Okay.  But also 

11          you and I have spoken about what concerns 

12          commuters with the East River tunnels.  

13          Obviously, as you know, they were inundated 

14          after Sandy.  And just from watching 

15          Twitter every day, they are a cause of much 

16          of this delay.  And I don't think there's a 

17          plan to do an overhaul for six or seven 

18          years down the road, which for a safety 

19          concern and for the continued delays has me 

20          concerned.  Can you address what we can do 

21          with respect to that?  

22                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Sure.  I try to 

23          avoid saying this as much as possible to 

24          folks on Long Island, but I think it's 

                                                                  66

 1          really important to stress that if you 

 2          think of all the trains that come through 

 3          and come through to Manhattan, we go 

 4          through those East River tunnels.  Those 

 5          East River tunnels are owned by Amtrak.  

 6          And in the process of that, they control 

 7          the maintenance, they control the upkeep, 

 8          they control -- they give us the red light 

 9          and green light to go through.

10                 We'll continue to work with Amtrak 

11          on that.  We have told them that we will 

12          share and give them money in connection, 

13          pay our fair share, so that the tunnels can 

14          be fixed.  And I'll work with you in trying 

15          to move Amtrak to get to that place to get 

16          it done.

17                 I look at it -- I mean, you know, 

18          when you think about it, the only way that 

19          the Long Island Railroad trains from any 

20          particular line will get into Penn Station 

21          is that they've got to squeeze through 

22          these tunnels that are not owned by us.  

23          I'd love that opportunity, but I don't ever 

24          see that in the future, so we have to work 

                                                                  67

 1          with them.  They're the landlord, we're the 

 2          tenant, and we're pushing as hard as we can 

 3          to get Amtrak to focus on that.  

 4                 But you're right, every time there's 

 5          a problem inside that tunnel, everything on 

 6          Long Island gets backed up.  And it's a 

 7          situation that's been like that for over a 

 8          hundred years, and I would like that to get 

 9          fixed as quickly as possible.  

10                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  I think one of 

11          the frustrations Long Islanders have is the 

12          MTA or Long Island Railroad is this kind of 

13          faceless entity and they're not able to 

14          kind of have a back-and-forth.  And what I 

15          think would be helpful is to -- and what I 

16          would like to invite you to do is come to 

17          my Senate district -- you know, the MTA, 

18          the Long Island Railroad, somebody who 

19          would be able to hear from commuters about 

20          what they're experiencing, kind of lay out 

21          what the action points are, to address some 

22          of those concerns.  Just kind of have some 

23          dialogue.  I think just having the voice or 

24          the tweet about what delays there are have 

                                                                  68

 1          really frustrated people, and I would love 

 2          to invite you to do that and to participate 

 3          in that.

 4                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Sure.  But 

 5          it -- I accept that.  I will.  But I will 

 6          also tell you, as part of the communication 

 7          plan is to have the face of the Long Island 

 8          Railroad, there needs to be community 

 9          representatives, there needs to be a 

10          public -- you know, a government and 

11          community affairs staff who will know the 

12          communities and know and possibly, 

13          probably, hopefully even live in the 

14          communities, so that their face can be 

15          local as well.

16                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Okay, I 

17          appreciate it.  

18                 And the last question is, have you 

19          explored what options Long Island railroad 

20          has at Belmont to accommodate the proposal 

21          for the new Islander stadium and what that 

22          might cost and how we might get from here 

23          to there?

24                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So a study is 

                                                                  69

 1          going on right now.  As you know, there's a 

 2          spur off of the main line that really -- 

 3          that spur only goes from -- going from the 

 4          west to the east.  There's no way for going 

 5          where most Long Islanders would take it if 

 6          they were taking the Long Island Railroad 

 7          as opposed to driving to go see the 

 8          Islanders.  So there is a study going on 

 9          right now.  Until it is completed, I have 

10          no idea of what the costs would be.

11                 The implications to it, though, are 

12          significant.  When we provide -- when the 

13          Long Island Railroad provides service to 

14          Belmont, it's generally on weekends and 

15          it's in connection with the racetrack.  The 

16          Islanders play during -- you know, the 

17          games start during rush hour.  As I 

18          mentioned before, we're at capacity on the 

19          main line during rush hour.  And so we're 

20          going to have to look at that and weigh 

21          that in.  I'm concerned about how that's 

22          all going to fit in at any particular point 

23          in time.

24                 But I do understand the desire on 

                                                                  70

 1          the part of the state, as well as the 

 2          owners of the Islanders and the community 

 3          that lives in and around Belmont, how 

 4          important it is for them to have transit.

 5                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Thank you, 

 6          Chairman Lhota.  I just want to end by 

 7          saying that I think New York got to see 

 8          your performance before and after Sandy.  

 9          And as a Long Islander, we don't use 

10          analogies like this lightly, but, you know, 

11          this is a disaster we are facing now too, 

12          and we could really use your leadership and 

13          have great hope that we will be able to 

14          tackle these existential problems.  So 

15          thank you.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

17                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Thank you, 

18          Senator.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

20          Skoufis.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN SKOUFIS:  Thank you, 

22          Madam Chair.  

23                 Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your 

24          participation.

                                                                  71

 1                 Like Senator Kaminsky, I represent a 

 2          set of suburban communities, albeit on the 

 3          opposite side of New York City, in Orange 

 4          and Rockland Counties.  And one of the 

 5          issues that is top of mind for many of the 

 6          commuters I represent, as you can imagine, 

 7          is the congestion pricing proposal that was 

 8          just unveiled and that there are ongoing 

 9          conversations about.  I know the MTA is 

10          deeply involved in these conversations.  My 

11          understanding is that you have or you had a 

12          number of current or former MTA 

13          representatives on the Fix NYC panel that 

14          was convened.  

15                 My first question, and I think the 

16          most important question, is talk to me 

17          about double tolling.  I know that there 

18          are not tolls proposed to be set up on the 

19          East River bridges because the panel did 

20          not want to double-toll folks who come into 

21          Manhattan, once on the bridge, once in the 

22          zone.  Our commuters who come into 

23          Manhattan over the George Washington Bridge 

24          and Lincoln Tunnel, my constituents, west 

                                                                  72

 1          of Hudson, will they be double-tolled?  The 

 2          Fix NYC proposal does not speak to that, as 

 3          far as I can tell.

 4                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So my -- I have 

 5          a Fix NYC proposal; I remember reading in 

 6          that that they said that, you know, if you 

 7          came in through a tunnel or a bridge and 

 8          then ultimately went to the central 

 9          business district, that it would be a 

10          credit against whatever the charge would 

11          be.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN SKOUFIS:  Even the Port 

13          Authority crossings?

14                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Yes.

15                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  Yes.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN SKOUFIS:  Well, I'm 

17          happy to hear that.  That wasn't my --

18                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  That's what I 

19          read.  

20                 But I'd also like to say while there 

21          are two members of our board who were on 

22          the Fix NYC panel -- you know, the staff of 

23          the MTA -- it was separate and distinct.  

24          So my understanding of what's there is from 

                                                                  73

 1          what I read and what I'm now talking to the 

 2          folks who wrote the report, their 

 3          understanding.  

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN SKOUFIS:  Well, I'm 

 5          happy to hear that, and I ask that you 

 6          please assure that that makes it, to the 

 7          best of your ability, assure that makes it 

 8          into any final proposal if we do have a 

 9          final proposal on congestion pricing.  

10                 You know, we are the -- west of 

11          Hudson is the oft-ignored part of the MTA 

12          system, unfortunately.  Last time we looked 

13          at it, for every dollar we put in, Orange 

14          gets about 63 cents of service back and 

15          Rockland gets about, I think, 65 cents of 

16          service back, based on a study that was 

17          conducted a number of years ago.  

18                 And more importantly, as it relates 

19          to congestion pricing, I understand that 

20          this concept is meant to incentivize and 

21          disincentivize behavior as it relates to 

22          driving or using mass transit.  The matter 

23          of fact is west of Hudson, in our two 

24          counties, we don't have the same, as I'm 

                                                                  74

 1          sure you know, accessibility to that public 

 2          transit that the rest of the MTA system 

 3          has.  We don't have subway systems, 

 4          obviously; we don't have anywhere near the 

 5          scope of busing that the five boroughs and 

 6          even some of the other suburban counties 

 7          have.  We don't have any mega-projects, if 

 8          you will -- East Side Access, Second Avenue 

 9          subway, et cetera.  You know, we took a 

10          look just this morning, my office, trains 

11          from Croton-Harmon each day into Grand 

12          Central, for their commuters, 70 trains.  

13          Trains from Hicksville, Long Island 

14          Railroad, into Manhattan every day, 66 

15          trains.  Trains from the most heavily used 

16          Orange County MTA station -- and that's 

17          Harriman, which I represent, and happen to 

18          live in the town of Woodbury -- 13.  

19                 So it is important that, I believe, 

20          there be accommodations for west-of-Hudson 

21          commuters given the lack of access that we 

22          do have.  And I'm happy to hear that it's 

23          your understanding that there won't be that 

24          double tolling even over the Port Authority 

                                                                  75

 1          crossings.  

 2                 Lastly -- I know I'm running out of 

 3          time -- can you provide an update on where 

 4          you are with a new station at Woodbury 

 5          Common?  There was a small blurb in the 

 6          Governor's Executive Budget I think tasking 

 7          folks to look at the feasibility of a new 

 8          station there.  This is not a new idea.  I 

 9          don't know how much of the institutional 

10          history you know around this.  This is an 

11          idea that dates back to well over a decade; 

12          the MTA tried to approach the community 

13          back then.  

14                 I fully support the idea.  But my 

15          hope is that we can move past feasibility 

16          and studies at this point and get this 

17          done, along with the massive $150 million 

18          interchange DOT project that's underway.  

19          This would be a significant boon to 

20          relieving congestion in our area to get a 

21          train station right into the mall.  

22                 So if you could speak to that and 

23          where we are, and are we prepared to fund 

24          that this year, if we can?  

                                                                  76

 1                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So the fact 

 2          that it's been recommended in the Executive 

 3          Budget I think gives an idea of how high a 

 4          priority it is.  And we have been charged 

 5          with more than just doing a feasibility, 

 6          there have been discussions with the owner 

 7          of the mall, the outlet mall -- Simons, I 

 8          believe, is the name -- that, you know, 

 9          we're moving forward with it.  And I 

10          understand it.  

11                 You know, when a governor, any 

12          governor, puts something in the budget, 

13          it's real and it needs to move to the next 

14          level.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN SKOUFIS:  Okay.  Thank 

16          you.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  Our 

18          next speaker is Senator Rivera.

19                 SENATOR RIVERA:  Good morning, sir.

20                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Good morning.

21                 SENATOR RIVERA:  So I have a few 

22          things that I want to talk about, and it's 

23          likely that I'll need a second round.  Some 

24          of the questions have already been asked, 

                                                                  77

 1          but I wanted to go back through them.

 2                 First of all, I wanted to go back to 

 3          the line of questioning that Assemblymember 

 4          Paulin started on related to the story in 

 5          the Daily News.  And I just wanted to 

 6          reiterate something that you said earlier; 

 7          I wanted to make sure that it was stated 

 8          for the record, and clearly, that you do 

 9          recognize that there were some misleading 

10          statements from the authority related to 

11          the amount of -- oh, you're saying no?  

12                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I don't believe 

13          there were any misleading statements, sir.  

14          I think -- but I'm sorry, I interrupted 

15          your question.

16                 SENATOR RIVERA:  It's just that I'm 

17          pretty sure that what I heard earlier was 

18          when either Assemblymember Weinstein or 

19          Assemblymember Paulin asked -- said, Do you 

20          acknowledge that there might have been some 

21          misleading statements, and you said "That's 

22          fair."  Is that not --

23                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  What I said was 

24          fair was that in the future if -- you know, 

                                                                  78

 1          the answer to the question -- you know, the 

 2          question that I was asked was, way back 

 3          when, Can you give us all power-related 

 4          disruptions and power-related service 

 5          delivery disruptions and delays, and that's 

 6          the number I gave.  

 7                 The example I used was that one 

 8          power problem, if you're just going to 

 9          isolate just the Con Ed side -- you know, 

10          when Con Ed looks at something and they 

11          say, Look, we have a power outage at 42nd 

12          Street on the West Side, for them, that's 

13          one.  For me, if it's an hour, it's almost 

14          200 trains.  So how do I connect it?  Do I 

15          say I've been disrupted and impacted and my 

16          passengers and your constituents --

17                 SENATOR RIVERA:  So you're saying 

18          that you could have communicated better, 

19          that point could have been communicated -- 

20                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  No, I answered 

21          the question that was asked, how many 

22          disruptions or how many service delivery 

23          problems does the MTA have.  I wasn't -- 

24          and that's what I -- that's what was 

                                                                  79

 1          answered.

 2                 SENATOR RIVERA:  Okay.  I might want 

 3          to go back to that.  

 4                 But something that's not been 

 5          mentioned yet is the state of emergency, 

 6          right?  Last June there was a state of 

 7          emergency declared.  That means certain 

 8          things for the -- for different parts of 

 9          the operation of the agency.  And there are 

10          a few things related to what that power was 

11          used for.  In particular, if it is -- I 

12          think it was at a couple of the board 

13          meetings there was a discussion about the 

14          LIRR catering contracts, subway car 

15          handrails, funding for the Governor's 

16          Genius Competition, as well as consultant 

17          drawings for the Cortlandt Street No. 1 

18          station.  These are all projects that were 

19          kind of fast-tracked, I guess, because of 

20          the emergency, the state of emergency.  

21                 Could you tell us if that is 

22          accurate, and why did the agency believe 

23          that such things were part of -- to solve 

24          an emergency in the system?

                                                                  80

 1                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  The executive 

 2          order -- I don't have a copy of it with me, 

 3          but the executive order, the very first 

 4          thing that it talks about is issues with 

 5          the Long Island Railroad, before it gets to 

 6          the subway.  It's the very first thing that 

 7          it talks about.

 8                 And in connection with the problems 

 9          that we anticipated with the Long Island 

10          Railroad, we thought it would be an 

11          important idea that since we're looking for 

12          Long Islanders to get on buses, that we 

13          would in fact have catering available, 

14          coffee or doughnuts or things like that in 

15          the morning available for them.  We needed 

16          to do that in less than a week.  It was 

17          clearly part of why I think the emergency 

18          order was put together.

19                 What was discussed at the board 

20          level and was corrected in future executive 

21          orders -- as you know, executive orders are 

22          for 30 days.  It gets re-upped all the 

23          time.  It now includes provisions in there 

24          for the board to.  

                                                                  81

 1                 We report to the board on a monthly 

 2          basis everything that has been purchased 

 3          and acquired in connection with the 

 4          emergency order.  And the board meeting 

 5          that we had just yesterday and the 

 6          committee meetings before the board on 

 7          Monday went over all of those.  

 8                 And so the board was concerned that 

 9          it was being cut out of the executive 

10          order.  The new executive order 

11          subsequently provided a role for the board.  

12                 SENATOR RIVERA:  Okay.  I have many 

13          other ones particularly related to the 

14          subway capital needs, but I'll get a second 

15          round.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman -- Madam 

16          Chairwoman.

17                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Thank you, 

18          Senator.  

19                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We've been 

20          joined by Assemblyman Félix Ortiz.

21                 For a question, Assemblyman Carroll.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  Thank you, 

23          Madam Chair.  

24                 Good morning.  My first question, 

                                                                  82

 1          Commissioner Lhota, is signal failures are 

 2          the leading cause of subway delays.  What 

 3          is the MTA's plan to modernize our signal 

 4          system to wireless-communication-based 

 5          train controls, a system that they have in 

 6          Paris that allows their most modern rail 

 7          lines to have trains come every 85 seconds?

 8                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So, Senator 

 9          {sic}, as you know, the L line has 

10          communication based controls.  We will 

11          shortly have total communication-based 

12          controls on the No. 7 train.  We are 

13          installing communication-based control on 

14          the Queens Boulevard line, which is the E 

15          and the numerous other lines that go 

16          underneath Queens Boulevard.  

17                 And we -- as part of the Genius 

18          Competition that the Governor put in place 

19          back in June, are evaluating different 

20          methodologies of how to install 

21          communication-based control throughout our 

22          entire system.  

23                 We've got in our capital budget 

24          right now $2.7 billion.  We will use all 

                                                                  83

 1          $2.7 billion on a new capital program.  

 2          This goes through 2019.  The next capital 

 3          program, while we're in the process of 

 4          putting it together right now, will have a 

 5          significant component in putting in a new 

 6          signal system.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  I think 

 8          conservative estimates said it would cost 

 9          about $20 billion to outfit the entire 

10          system with this communication-based train 

11          control.  Will the 2020-2024 capital budget 

12          have an outlay to, over the next five to 

13          10 years, modernize the entire system?

14                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I'm waiting for 

15          the results of the Genius Competition to 

16          see what other technologies are out there.  

17          Communication-based control is a technology 

18          that's 25 years old.  Part of the Genius 

19          Competition was to -- we know a lot has 

20          happened to the digital world in the last 

21          25 years.  What other new technologies are 

22          out there?  Because if we're going to make 

23          an investment like this, let's make it the 

24          best, let's make it the most modern system.

                                                                  84

 1                 So I'm waiting for those results.  

 2          It's my anticipation -- look, I'd like to 

 3          get a -- the most important thing to do 

 4          with the new signal system is so that we 

 5          can also get more trains, or less time in 

 6          between trains.  It's also going to require 

 7          us to buy new trains.  Because every single 

 8          one of our almost 6500 trains are being 

 9          used.  So if we're going to put less time 

10          in between, we're going to need more 

11          trains.  

12                 Now, all of our trains that we're 

13          buying now and have been buying for the 

14          last few years are all communication-based- 

15          control-eligible.  It's built in already.  

16          But a lot of our system is not.  So we're 

17          going to also, in addition to putting in 

18          the signal system itself, we're also going 

19          to need new trains.  And in fact we have -- 

20          sorry for the problem, but we do have, you 

21          know, the new -- yesterday the board 

22          approved a contract for the R211s, which is 

23          the name of these trains.  These are 

24          brand-new trains that will be made by 

                                                                  85

 1          Kawasaki, all in the United States, half of 

 2          which will be made in Yonkers, New York; 

 3          the other half will be in Lincoln, 

 4          Nebraska.  They are all ready to use the 

 5          new signal system.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  Well, you 

 7          know, just switching tracks, I'm sure that 

 8          you read a report by Comptroller DiNapoli 

 9          in November of 2017 that noted that there 

10          may still be a $15 billion budget shortfall 

11          in the 2015-2019 capital budget plan, 

12          partially because there has still not been 

13          an identified source of the $7 billion in 

14          state funding for its capital obligations.

15                 Can the MTA currently identify the 

16          source of those $7 billion from the state 

17          for its capital funding?

18                 MTA CFO FORAN:  No, there is not 

19          right now an identified source, either of 

20          the bonds themselves or the revenue 

21          support.  

22                 And I would point out that the 

23          agreement that we had when we did receive 

24          this tremendous additional funding -- that 

                                                                  86

 1          now is $7.6 billion above the initial 

 2          $1 billion -- was that the issue of those 

 3          funds would be made available as we've 

 4          already used our own funds first.  And that 

 5          is what we're doing.  We still have 

 6          resources available to us that we are 

 7          spending.  

 8                 We firmly believe that the state -- 

 9          members of these bodies and the executive 

10          branch -- will come up with the funding 

11          source to meet that commitment.  But right 

12          now we're using the resources that we have 

13          internally, with our own bonding, to meet 

14          the needs.  So those aren't required at 

15          this time.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  But you can 

17          agree that we're under dire need to invest 

18          in the system to upgrade signals, upgrade 

19          cars, bring new buses online.  Wouldn't one 

20          assume that we're going to need that 

21          funding sooner rather than later?  And that 

22          we're coming upon the 2020-2024 capital 

23          budget, and will you be able to roll that 

24          out before 2019 to show where the budget 

                                                                  87

 1          shortfalls could be, so that if we do do a 

 2          congestion pricing plan that raises 

 3          $1 billion to $1.5 billion annually, we 

 4          know where this money is going so we know 

 5          what we're buying?  

 6                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So, Senator, if 

 7          I may -- 

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  I'm an 

 9          Assemblymember, just --

10                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I'm sorry, 

11          (inaudible), I apologize.  

12                 Just a little bit of background.  

13          When you have a five-year plan and you talk 

14          monies in those five-year plans, the 

15          projects will start during those five 

16          years.  In some cases they continue on 

17          beyond that.  

18                 The money that's committed, which is 

19          not given but committed from whether it's 

20          the federal, state, local or MTA towards 

21          those plans, are needed not up-front, but 

22          they're actually needed when the cash flow 

23          goes out.  And the cash flow goes out when 

24          the projects are being worked on.

                                                                  88

 1                 So if you're in a five-year plan and 

 2          something starts within the five years, 

 3          anything that's done within the five years 

 4          gets paid.  That goes to Bob's mentioning 

 5          that -- you know, the priority of dollars.  

 6          This agreement goes back for quite a ways, 

 7          back to even when I was the New York City 

 8          budget director.  And then the first 

 9          dollars that always go out, that we use in 

10          any capital plan, are the MTA's and the 

11          federal government's, then followed by the 

12          state and city governments'.  So they're on 

13          the tail end of the program.  

14                 That was the conversation, as I 

15          recall in reading the Comptroller's report, 

16          that the commitment's there but the cash 

17          hasn't been given.  You know, we will get 

18          the cash when the work gets done.  And the 

19          work is proceeding along.  

20                 That same report --

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  Well, how long 

22          is this work going to take to get done, I 

23          guess is the real question.

24                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  In this 

                                                                  89

 1          particular case with the switches, they're 

 2          all being done, but the capital plan said 

 3          that it was going to go out beyond that 

 4          period of time.

 5                 Remember, remember, when you put in 

 6          switches, we have to take down the -- we 

 7          have to take down sometimes a portion, not 

 8          all, but a portion of a subway line.  It's 

 9          not -- when you put in a switch, it's not 

10          something that we can do on a weekend, it's 

11          not something that we can do overnight.  

12          And we run a 24-hour, seven-day system, so 

13          we have to weigh against that how do we 

14          deal with the shutdown for a period of time 

15          to be able to put that switch in.  That 

16          counterbalance is very, very important.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  I'll come 

18          around for a second time.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Sure.  We've 

20          been joined by Assemblyman Steve Otis.

21                 Senator?  

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator Savino is 

23          up.

24                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Senator 

                                                                  90

 1          Young.  

 2                 I'm already preparing for my second 

 3          round of questions, so -- and I know you're 

 4          going to be grilled intensively about the 

 5          Subway Action Plan and who should pay for 

 6          it and how we should pay for it, so I want 

 7          to speak about something a little bit more 

 8          parochial.  

 9                 As you know, I represent south 

10          Brooklyn and Staten Island, two areas that 

11          could easily be described as transit 

12          deserts in many respects.  One of the 

13          things we've been hoping for for a while in 

14          south Brooklyn is the restoration of 

15          express service.  So if anyone on your team 

16          could give me an update as to where we are 

17          with express restoration service.

18                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  As you 

19          know, we're doing a tremendous amount of 

20          work on the F line right now.  That work is 

21          slated to continue through the balance of 

22          the year.  We will then be taking a look at 

23          what opportunities there will be to bring 

24          back the F express service in some form.  I 

                                                                  91

 1          think everything is still on the table.

 2                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Right.  Because as 

 3          you know, in Coney Island we've seen not 

 4          just development, but also more people are 

 5          discovering Coney Island with the -- and 

 6          you're smiling because you know how on a 

 7          summer weekend we can have up to a million 

 8          people on the beach there and on the 

 9          boardwalk.  And unfortunately, there's only 

10          one way in and one way out.  It's a 

11          peninsula that's only three avenues wide.  

12          And when there is any sort of major 

13          problem, people can't get off of Coney 

14          Island.  So we're hoping to get more people 

15          on the train and out of their cars, so any 

16          efforts there would be great. 

17                 Two other issues I want to mention.  

18          I think one of the great success stories of 

19          the MTA in the past couple of years is the 

20          changeover at our toll booths to 

21          over-the-road tolling.  It has really sped 

22          traffic across the bridges.  However, as we 

23          know, not everybody has an E-ZPass, and 

24          there's been some bumps in the road about 

                                                                  92

 1          toll collection.

 2                 So I just have a question.  Since 

 3          some people are still resistant to the idea 

 4          of an E-ZPass because they don't use it 

 5          enough to justify having to maintain money 

 6          on it, has there been any thought about 

 7          allowing people to pay their tolls through 

 8          another collection?  I mean, for instance, 

 9          is there a way to connect the over-the-road 

10          tolling perhaps with someone's cellphone if 

11          they have a payment method on it, so that 

12          they don't get the ticket in the mail, they 

13          don't get the violation, they don't get the 

14          big fines?

15                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So, Senator, 

16          right now, just to show you, we have 

17          between 94 and 95 percent of -- between 94 

18          and 95 percent of all users on all of our 

19          tolls have E-ZPass, and it's expanding even 

20          more.  

21                 We've opened up various different 

22          ways in which you can acquire an E-ZPass.  

23          You can pay for an E-ZPass with cash in 

24          numerous different locations throughout the 

                                                                  93

 1          New York metropolitan area where, you know, 

 2          for those people who don't want an E-ZPass 

 3          because they don't want to be identified 

 4          through their credit card and all of 

 5          that -- I fully understand that -- but you 

 6          can go to many different delis and bodegas.  

 7          Anywhere where you see a sign where you can 

 8          buy a telephone card, you can also buy an 

 9          E-ZPass.  So I think we're seeing more and 

10          more of that.

11                 And I will look into what we do to 

12          advertise that so that there's more of an 

13          opportunity for your constituents to see 

14          that.

15                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Great.  And the 

16          final question on this round, as you know, 

17          over the past few years the Senate has 

18          taken action to pass legislation to 

19          increase the penalties on subway predators, 

20          sexual predators in the subway system.  In 

21          June of this year, I released a report that 

22          shows that subway sex crimes and arrests 

23          have skyrocketed in the subway system.  And 

24          I know this has been discussed at the MTA 

                                                                  94

 1          board.  

 2                 Unfortunately, these are repeat 

 3          offenders who find their way into the 

 4          subway system, and the penalties are almost 

 5          nonexistent.  Many of them just get a slap 

 6          on the wrist and they're back in the subway 

 7          the next day.  So could you speak at all to 

 8          the concerns that you have about this and 

 9          whether or not you think -- I can't ask you 

10          to support legislation.  Perhaps if you do, 

11          I would like you to take a look at the bill 

12          that the Senate has passed almost 

13          unanimously for the past five years that 

14          would elevate these crimes to the level of 

15          a Class D felony and keep these repeat 

16          predators out of the subway system.

17                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Senator, we 

18          have to do something about this.  I mean, 

19          there's no question.  And if we need 

20          legislation and {inaudible} to fine it, so 

21          be it.  But the enforcement of it -- and 

22          we're also -- you know, as part of it I've 

23          seen an increase in some of the reporting 

24          on this, not just in the subway system but 

                                                                  95

 1          in parts of the city, and when you look at 

 2          CompStat reports in various different 

 3          precincts.  

 4                 We also need to make it easier for 

 5          those who are -- you know, whether it's 

 6          women or whoever is being attacked in any 

 7          way, shape or form, a way in which they can 

 8          report it, because I think it's very, very 

 9          important.  

10                 We also have people on board the 

11          trains to deal with these issues, all of 

12          our -- Ronnie, if you want to talk about 

13          the program we have in place --

14                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  Sure.  

15          So recognizing that this is an unacceptable 

16          situation for our customers, we've been 

17          working very aggressively not only with the 

18          NYPD and the Transit Bureau and the subway 

19          system, we've put our own customer 

20          information campaign out about how to 

21          report these crimes.  

22                 We've also started this year working 

23          closely with the criminal justice offices 

24          and trying to pursue prosecution of these 

                                                                  96

 1          recidivists in order to, as a condition of 

 2          their parole, including barring them from 

 3          the transit system.  So we do think there 

 4          are opportunities for enforcement.

 5                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.  And 

 6          you're right, you guys have put in place 

 7          some programs to help better identify them 

 8          and capture them.  

 9                 I'm going to be doing another report 

10          soon with the NYPD and we're going to go 

11          attempt to explain how many of them are 

12          repeat offenders.  And the vast majority of 

13          them are.

14                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  We 

15          have that information.  We'd be glad to 

16          share it with you.

17                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

19                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We've been 

20          joined, first, by Assemblywoman Earlene 

21          Hill -- {inaudible exchange}.  

22                 Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper has 

23          joined us, from Hempstead, Long Island.

24                 We now move on for a question to 

                                                                  97

 1          Assemblywoman Hyndman.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HYNDMAN:  Good 

 3          morning.

 4                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Good morning.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HYNDMAN:  Good 

 6          morning, Chairman Lhota.  Welcome back.  

 7                 Good morning, Director Hakim.  

 8                 Like Assemblymember Nily Rozic, I 

 9          live in southeast Queens and proudly 

10          represent the 29th District, and we have a 

11          subway on the edge of the district.  So I'm 

12          glad to hear that you are very much going 

13          to write the Freedom Ticket, you're going 

14          to roll out the Freedom Ticket this year.  

15          But what happened to the Freedom Ticket 

16          pilot that was supposed to take place?  I 

17          thought it was supposed to start October 

18          2017, to go into Brooklyn.

19                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Well, we're 

20          very close to implementing the pilot.  And 

21          I was just leaning over, we just need to 

22          get one more piece of clearance and it will 

23          go forward, the pilot.  It's very important 

24          to be able to do that, to understand how 

                                                                  98

 1          habits change, how volume -- how many 

 2          people use it, how do we adjust it 

 3          accordingly, before anything is rolled out.

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HYNDMAN:  Okay.  We're 

 5          also a district that relies heavily on 

 6          express bus service.  And with these new 

 7          buses, these electric buses that you're 

 8          proudly displaying, are those going to be 

 9          also upgraded or added to the express bus 

10          service?  

11                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I'm sorry, was 

12          the question were we going to be using 

13          electric buses on the express bus service?  

14          Someday I hope we can do that, because 

15          right now the electric charge will not go 

16          the distance from southeast Queens to -- 

17          depending on where it would terminate in 

18          Midtown or Lower Manhattan, because we 

19          can't afford to have it, you know, not get 

20          the whole way.  So they're able to use 

21          hybrid electric buses in that.

22                 You know, technology, when it comes 

23          to batteries and how long a battery can 

24          work, is changing rapidly as well.  It's 

                                                                  99

 1          all part of the digital world.  That's why 

 2          I say someday I hope we can.  Because the 

 3          electric buses throw off no emissions, they 

 4          make no sound, and they're wonderful for 

 5          both the people in the streets, as it goes 

 6          by, as well as for the passengers.  So it's 

 7          our goal.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HYNDMAN:  You said 

 9          that you like or agree with the Fix 

10          New York plan.  How are you prepared to 

11          deal with what may be an influx of subway 

12          riders that will decide to not use -- 

13          obviously, drive in, they'll decide to take 

14          the subway?  How is MTA prepared to deal 

15          with that, as well as increased ridership, 

16          possibly, on the Long Island Railroad?  

17                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So the Fix NYC 

18          report, and having it be put in three 

19          phases, with the first phase dealing with 

20          whatever we can do prior to congestion 

21          pricing, which is, first and foremost, fix 

22          the MTA, deal with the placard problem, 

23          deal with enforcement of traffic, not just 

24          in the central district but throughout the 

                                                                  100

 1          City of New York, and then at a certain 

 2          point then start charging, you know, for 

 3          higher vehicles, amount of money.  

 4                 It's over a relatively long period 

 5          of time.  For me, the most important 

 6          portion of that is, which I've said 

 7          earlier, MTA, you know, get that Subway 

 8          Action Plan done, get the delays down, buy 

 9          the new subway cars, get the new signal 

10          system in so that as we see an influx in 

11          the number of folks who come in, whether 

12          they're commuters or even on the weekends, 

13          that they're able to take the subway system 

14          and it's a subway system that is reliable.

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HYNDMAN:  Thank you.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

17                 Senator Krueger.

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Good morning.  

19          See, I bet you it would be at least three 

20          hours with you.  I think we're going to go 

21          past that.  I didn't bet him, excuse me.  

22          That's an expression.

23                 The state has actually removed $455 

24          million -- excuse me, $456 million diverted 

                                                                  101

 1          from the MTA back into the General Fund 

 2          over multiple years.  And much of that 

 3          actually probably came from the payroll 

 4          tax.  Don't you think that money should be 

 5          given back to the MTA to deal with 

 6          emergency needs?  

 7                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Senator, 

 8          there's an enormous amount of hyperbole 

 9          that goes around with the fact that -- the 

10          claim that the state has diverted 

11          $457 million worth of operating support 

12          from the MTA.  It's extremely misleading 

13          for the people who state that.  

14                 Of that amount, the state directed 

15          204 million to go to the MTA's 

16          pay-as-you-go capital account and/or 

17          otherwise restored it.  Of the remaining, 

18          235 million was used to pay debt service on 

19          bonds issued for the MTA for, you know, 

20          transit and rail projects -- both 

21          legitimate, both worthwhile programs.  

22                 And I think, you know, the most 

23          important thing to remember is that the 

24          amount of money that the state has given to 

                                                                  102

 1          the MTA has increased over the last eight 

 2          years by $1.1 billion.  Every single year, 

 3          the amount of money that the state has 

 4          given to the MTA has gone up.

 5                 Now, in answer to your question 

 6          about the PMT, the Governor in the current 

 7          Executive Budget put in something that the 

 8          MTA has had at least for the last six years 

 9          in its legislative package, and that is to 

10          give the PMT directly to the MTA in a 

11          lockbox approach, and for that I am very 

12          grateful, because this issue would then no 

13          longer be on the table.

14                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

15                 So you explained how the state 

16          taking the money but then using it for debt 

17          for the MTA is legitimate, although that's 

18          not traditionally what we have done when we 

19          cover bonds.  So it's not been 

20          traditionally the pattern that the state 

21          makes a capital plan commitment so that 

22          bonds can be drawn for you to improve your 

23          system, and then we hit you with a 

24          deduction from your operating cost to pay 

                                                                  103

 1          those bonds.  You would agree that's a new 

 2          concept?

 3                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  It's a concept 

 4          that goes back for a long period of time.  

 5          You know, ever since we've been putting 

 6          together four-year plans, similar to the 

 7          way the City of New York puts together its 

 8          financial plans, we have projections into 

 9          the future.  We have to make estimates of 

10          what's there.  

11                 And the fact that -- if we don't get 

12          what we estimated three years later, it's 

13          hard to call it a cut.  It really is very, 

14          very hard to call that a cut.  It's an 

15          estimate.  It's not real until the state, 

16          you know, puts it in the budget.  

17                 But what's also important to look at 

18          is that the -- the other monies that are 

19          given to us, so that in each and every 

20          year -- I have to look at it in total, I 

21          can't just -- you know, not in the 

22          component parts.

23                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So at yesterday's 

24          board meeting you withdrew a proposal that 

                                                                  104

 1          seemed to have some real concern raised by 

 2          board members that would ultimately involve 

 3          a billion dollars for more cosmetic fixes 

 4          for, I think, 33 or 34 stops.  And there 

 5          was both concern about spending this money 

 6          on things that would not improve the direct 

 7          service of the subways and were -- there 

 8          was an argument, I believe, also over which 

 9          subway stations actually should be 

10          prioritized.

11                 Are you going to go back and 

12          reevaluate this proposal?

13                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So if I may, 

14          Senator, to give you --

15                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Yes.

16                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  -- my point of 

17          view first, to understand what's included.

18                 There is $2.4 billion that's 

19          currently in our capital plan to renovate 

20          our stations.  I don't believe, as some 

21          people have said, that these are cosmetic 

22          changes.  If you look at the stations that 

23          have been opened up, in Assemblyman Ortiz's 

24          district you will see that they are new, 

                                                                  105

 1          they are digital signage, they are -- it's 

 2          a much different experience.

 3                 It's our expectation that we're 

 4          going to do this throughout the entire 

 5          system.  We have to renovate each and every 

 6          one of our stations, whether above ground 

 7          or below ground.  So as we're about to 

 8          embark on doing this, what we decided to 

 9          do -- you know I've gotten numerous 

10          questions about how we spent money and 

11          what's the way in which we spend money.  So 

12          what we decided to do with this is let's 

13          look at those stations that are small, 

14          let's look at those stations that don't 

15          have as many passengers.  Because, you 

16          know, we shut down the station, the ones I 

17          was just talking about in Brooklyn, for six 

18          months.  And so we need to look at what 

19          happens to the disruption when you shut 

20          down a station.

21                 So what I wanted to do, and what 

22          we're doing, is we're looking at those 

23          stations to see -- make sure that when we 

24          roll out to go out throughout the system 

                                                                  106

 1          for the largest stations, that we have 

 2          found the right contractors, we know 

 3          exactly what to do.  In a sense, we walk 

 4          before we run.

 5                 The representatives of the city 

 6          would rather we take the first dollars and 

 7          go to the largest stations, go to the ones 

 8          with the most number of people, impact and 

 9          make it disruptive for the most number of 

10          people.  And if we make a mistake up-front, 

11          that's going to be a mistake that the 

12          New York Times should properly write about, 

13          but good management would tell you, figure 

14          out how to do it appropriately and then 

15          roll it out to all of the rest of them.  

16          That was the plan.  Less disruption, most 

17          efficient, what is the best way to get it 

18          done in each and every one of them.  And so 

19          that was the process in doing it.

20                 There's more politics at play here 

21          than it has anything to do with the actual 

22          plans themselves, because the plan that 

23          we've developed, I think it's reasonable, 

24          it makes the most amount of sense, and it 

                                                                  107

 1          will allow us to do the most number of 

 2          stations by being as efficient as we 

 3          possibly can.

 4                 I'll give you an example.  Five 

 5          years ago when I was last at the MTA, we 

 6          started working on cashless tolling.  The 

 7          very first one was the Henry Hudson Bridge.  

 8          We selected the Henry Hudson Bridge because 

 9          it had less traffic, it also had no 

10          commercial traffic.  And we wanted to make 

11          sure it worked, how does it work, do we 

12          have the back office in place, do we have 

13          the ability to then scale it up.  And once 

14          we did, we now have it scaled throughout 

15          the entire system and the MTA is the 

16          largest cashless tolling operator in the 

17          world.

18                 If we had decided to do the big 

19          bang, do it all at once, I guarantee you 

20          there would have been problems in the back 

21          office.  But once we got it in place and 

22          knew that we could scale it forward, we 

23          went forward and did it. 

24                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I'll come back in 

                                                                  108

 1          Rounds 2 and 3, thank you.

 2                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Sorry I took 

 3          too long in --

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

 6          Malliotakis.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Hi, 

 8          chairman.  Great to have you here.  

 9                 First, I've always been a critic of 

10          inefficiencies at the MTA, so I want to 

11          give you credit when you mentioned the 

12          aggressive cost-cutting measures, 

13          particularly 2 billion in savings a year.  

14          I think that's something that is -- and I 

15          want to give credit where credit is due, so 

16          I commend you on that.

17                 I wanted to talk a little bit about 

18          the violations that many residents in my 

19          district, Staten Island and Brooklyn, have 

20          received while going over the new cashless 

21          tolling system on the Verrazano Bridge.  In 

22          particular, there are individuals who are 

23          getting violations because they're not 

24          reading the tag or perhaps they can't read 

                                                                  109

 1          the license plate, but also there's an 

 2          issue with the carpool.  They may not be 

 3          able to -- there's cameras, I'm told, that 

 4          identify how many people are in the car, 

 5          and perhaps if there's an infant, they 

 6          don't see the third person.  And so people 

 7          are being hit with these violations of 

 8          approximately a hundred dollars per trip, 

 9          which are certainly adding up to the 

10          thousands, in some cases, if it's not 

11          something that they're aware of right away. 

12                 So what I'm asking is the New York 

13          State Thruway Authority recently came out 

14          with an amnesty plan for their new cashless 

15          tolling system for the Mario Cuomo Bridge, 

16          and I want to ask the MTA to do the same.  

17          Because certainly we don't want to take 

18          advantage of individuals who are doing the 

19          right thing but there may be a glitch in 

20          the system.

21                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So, you know, 

22          Assemblymember, I will look at that.  I've 

23          seen a tremendous drop in any questions 

24          from anyone on what's going over with the 

                                                                  110

 1          commuters and the number of passengers on 

 2          board.  There were at the very beginning, 

 3          and then it's dropped down significantly.

 4                 And I'll continue to monitor that 

 5          and working with, as I mentioned before, 

 6          the back office part of it.  Because, you 

 7          know, the benefits of cashless tolling is 

 8          cars go faster and they're not, you know -- 

 9          everything goes across, accidents are less.  

10          But the back office has to work, because 

11          that's where it actually happens.  So that 

12          we'll deal with that on the commuter side 

13          of it.  

14                 On the penalty-related side, we've 

15          also seen a tremendous drop because of a 

16          better understanding.  For those who, you 

17          know, it can't be read, that issue has been 

18          fixed.  It's been for a while ago.  

19                 So look, I will work with you, your 

20          office and the folks both on Staten Island 

21          and in southern Brooklyn who are frequent 

22          users of the VZ, the Verrazano Bridge, to 

23          make sure that it's --

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  That 

                                                                  111

 1          would be great.  With regards to more local 

 2          or I guess additional local questions, the 

 3          West Shore light rail study and the North 

 4          Shore BRT, the MTA put forward funding, I 

 5          think it's about $9 million total, for 

 6          studies or environmental design work on the 

 7          BRT.  Could you tell us the status of that?  

 8                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Why don't I get 

 9          back to you on that, because I'm not sure.  

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Okay, 

11          that would be great.

12                 Speaking of the subway system -- and 

13          a lot of my questions have already been 

14          answered by your previous testimonies -- I 

15          think you and I both agree that the City of 

16          New York needs to also chip in with regards 

17          to the Subway Action Plan and also toward 

18          long-term funding of the MTA.  

19                 There are a lot of New York City 

20          members here, so if you could just share 

21          what would be the -- I mean, if New York 

22          City doesn't step up and contribute towards 

23          the subway system which is encompassed 

24          wholly within its city, what's going to 

                                                                  112

 1          happen with regard to your action plan?  In 

 2          previous testimony or in the press you've 

 3          mentioned that you may not be able to 

 4          complete the necessary signal upgrades 

 5          relating to the emergency plan if you do 

 6          not get the other 50 percent from the city.

 7                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So what I've 

 8          said, that if we don't get the other 

 9          50 percent, we'll have to stretch the plan 

10          out.  I'd like, you know, the emergency 

11          plan, the Subway Action Plan, as it's 

12          called, to be done as quickly as possible, 

13          because the most important thing, as many 

14          other members had questions about, is when 

15          are you going to upgrade, when are you 

16          going to do the new things?  I mean, I need 

17          to get it stabilized and move up into the 

18          new program.

19                 Look, the whole point of it is -- 

20          you know, with the Subway Action Plan and 

21          looking for a partner, is exactly that.  

22          It's important to have a partner in the 

23          city for the New York City subway system.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  And I 

                                                                  113

 1          just want to put something on your radar.  

 2          I actually got a letter this morning from 

 3          the Staten Island Downtown Alliance 

 4          speaking about the Stapleton Train Station.  

 5                 As you know, in the Stapleton area 

 6          there's been a lot of development.  They've 

 7          now transformed the Home Port into Urby, 

 8          and there's a lot going on there 

 9          residentially and commercially, and we 

10          expect more.  The Stapleton Train Station 

11          itself, it was supposed to be I guess 

12          upgraded for some time and -- it's funny, 

13          they sent me a picture from the 1986 

14          Madonna video "Papa Don't Preach."  And in 

15          fact it was actually filmed there.  

16          Graffiti and a lot of litter and grime.  

17          And actually they're saying it looks as 

18          terrible today as it did then.  

19                 So I appreciate the efforts that 

20          were made in Bay Ridge, because I share 

21          that district with Félix Ortiz, so we're 

22          happy with the new subway we have there.  

23          In Staten Island we'd also like to see 

24          additional improvement, particularly in 

                                                                  114

 1          these areas where we're seeing economic 

 2          growth and residential growth.  We want to 

 3          be able to keep attracting that.  But 

 4          certainly we want a subway station that 

 5          looks just as nice as the one in Bay Ridge.

 6                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So I appreciate 

 7          that.  And we're working very closely with 

 8          developers along where the Home Port used 

 9          to be, as well as in other parts as there's 

10          growth in Staten Island, so that, you know, 

11          we can be able to work with them, to be 

12          able to use -- as I say, we can share.  

13          Because it's really important, the value of 

14          their property appreciates when they have 

15          good mass transit nearby, and they fully 

16          appreciate that.

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  I 

18          appreciate that.  

19                 And we also need MetroCard boxes at 

20          our rail -- we don't have any of that.  So 

21          if somebody wants to go refill their card 

22          or buy a new card, they have to find a 

23          store that sells it.  We don't have any, 

24          not one, on Staten Island, believe it or 

                                                                  115

 1          not, which I think many people from other 

 2          boroughs would find shocking.

 3                 Thank you.  

 4                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Okay, I will 

 5          look into that, thank you.  

 6                 You really have a picture of Madonna 

 7          up there?  

 8                 (Laughter.)

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Technology.  

10                 Thank you.  Our next speaker is 

11          Senator Comrie.

12                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Thank you.  Thank 

13          you, Madam Chairs.  

14                 Good morning, Chairman Lhota, it's 

15          good to see you again.  As you may 

16          remember, I represent southeast Queens, 

17          which is a transportation desert.  There 

18          are many parts of my district, as with 

19          Assemblymember Rozic and Assemblymember 

20          Hyndman, that don't have access to 

21          transportation.  It takes them 45 minutes 

22          to an hour just to get to downtown Jamaica 

23          Station.  

24                 And we're very concerned about 

                                                                  116

 1          what's going with the Freedom Plan.  I know  

 2          you made a couple of brief statements about 

 3          the Freedom Plan, but you said there's a 

 4          technical glitch.  I hope that we can get 

 5          through that glitch as quickly as possibly 

 6          so that it can be up and running, because 

 7          it would give my constituents and 

 8          constituents in southeast Queens almost six 

 9          hours in quality time that they could get 

10          back.  And I hope that we can get that up 

11          and going.  

12                 But I also encourage you to take a 

13          look at the entire plan, because my 

14          understanding is that there are some 

15          stations that are not going to be included, 

16          such as the Hollis, Queens Village stations 

17          on the Long Island Railroad, and I think 

18          that those are two stations that could be 

19          included in the Freedom Plan, and I hope we 

20          can get that included as quickly as 

21          possible.  

22                 I'll come back on my second round 

23          and talk about congestion pricing; I just 

24          want to stay parochial for a moment.  

                                                                  117

 1                 Also in my district is the Lefferts 

 2          Boulevard underpass for the Long Island 

 3          Railroad station, the Kew Gardens station.  

 4          That underpass has been in disrepair for 

 5          over 20 years.  Recently they took a 

 6          10-year lease, it was given to a manager 

 7          with no opportunity for maintenance.  The 

 8          overpass is in severe disrepair, and we've 

 9          been trying to get a study funded by the 

10          MTA to look at preserving that Long Island 

11          Railroad bridge on Lefferts Boulevard 

12          because we have businesses that have been 

13          there over 20 years that want to stay in 

14          the area, and they're on top of the bridge.  

15          It's a stucco, slash, convoluted kind of a 

16          patchwork that put the bridge together; now 

17          it can't be maintained.  And unfortunately, 

18          even for businesses to stay viable, there 

19          has to be a brand-new electrical service 

20          brought in so that the businesses can stay 

21          viable.  

22                 But the community overwhelmingly 

23          wants to see those businesses stay, and 

24          there is a way, we believe, that the bridge 

                                                                  118

 1          can be maintained and preserved.  And it 

 2          only takes about a million-dollar study to 

 3          get that done.  And I don't believe that it 

 4          takes that much, but the Long Island 

 5          Railroad has attempted to move forward.  

 6                 Now that you're in the position as 

 7          chairman, I hope that we can get that done 

 8          and get that done quickly.  It's important 

 9          to that community, and it's important to 

10          the structure and the safety of the Long 

11          Island Railroad, because that is the major 

12          bridge that takes a lot of the trains 

13          coming from Long Island Railroad, which 

14          would only further infuriate Senator 

15          Kaminsky's on-record times.

16                 So hopefully we could sit down on 

17          both of those issues and go through that 

18          thoroughly, and working with yourself and 

19          your team, I think we could get some honest 

20          answers on that.

21                 I also wanted to just align myself 

22          with Senator Kaminsky, because my district 

23          touches Belmont Park also.  That Belmont 

24          Park Long Island Railroad station is 

                                                                  119

 1          something we sorely need.  We could use it 

 2          before the Islanders get here.  So if we 

 3          can get that done.  We've been asking for 

 4          that to happen.  And that would be a great 

 5          park-and-ride location for commuters, so. 

 6                 And you talked about bus route 

 7          changes, just to bounce to another topic, 

 8          since I only have a short window.  As 

 9          Assemblymember Rozic said, in southeast 

10          Queens we need a lot of bus route changes.  

11          But even more than that, you know, right 

12          now we could use more express buses going 

13          to Manhattan directly, to the central 

14          business district.

15                 The express buses that we have now 

16          don't run frequently enough, and there's 

17          been a high demand from my constituents to 

18          do express buses, not the -- what do you 

19          call those buses that you're trying to put 

20          in?

21                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  The SBS, the --

22                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Yeah, the SBS 

23          buses.  

24                 They don't want to take time to go 

                                                                  120

 1          to Jamaica, they'd rather take a one-seat 

 2          ride into Manhattan.  The express bus would 

 3          give them that opportunity and do it in a 

 4          much more comfortable way.  

 5                 And I hope that we can sit down and 

 6          look at that, look at those bus route 

 7          changes that need to happen in Queens 

 8          overall, because as you already know, the 

 9          population and the demographics are 

10          changing and we need to make it a better 

11          possibility for buses into Queens.  So I 

12          would hope that we'd get a chance to look 

13          at that and put all those things together.

14                 Finally, in my last couple of 

15          seconds, I want to congratulate Hector 

16          Garcia, who is your Long Island Railroad 

17          community guy for Queens and part of Long 

18          Island.  He's overwhelmed and overworked, 

19          but he is responsive.  So I agree with you, 

20          we need to have more local people there to 

21          get back to us, but hopefully when we sit 

22          down we can get real answers.  

23                 So I'll come back on the second 

24          round and go deeper.

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 1                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Senator, I got 

 2          all six -- I think it was six items that 

 3          you talked about that we will follow up on.

 4                 SENATOR COMRIE:  I've got about six 

 5          more too.

 6                 (Laughter.)

 7                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Thank you.

 8                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Thank you.  

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

10          Senator.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

12                 Mindful about the negative effects 

13          of prolonged sitting, health effects, I 

14          think we're going to take a five-minute 

15          break, let people stretch their legs and 

16          use the facilities if they need to.  So if 

17          we could do that now.

18                 (A brief recess was taken.)

19            CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So to return to 

20          our -- to resume the hearing, Assemblyman 

21          David Buchwald.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  Thank you, 

23          Madam Chairwoman.  It's nice to say those 

24          words.

                                                                  122

 1                 And thank you, Chairman Lhota, for 

 2          being here this morning.  Would it be okay 

 3          if I asked you, as best as you can, to 

 4          interpret the recent comments of the mayor 

 5          of New York City with regards to the Fix 

 6          NYC plan?  I'm going to specify what 

 7          comments and your action -- but I just want 

 8          to pre-clear that of course you are not the 

 9          mayor of New York City --

10                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Oh, yeah, I 

11          know that.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  -- speak to 

13          -- exactly for him.

14                 (Laughter.)

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  But I'd like 

16          to ask you a bit about his comments on the 

17          Fix NYC plan and see as best we can, 

18          together, whether we can interpret them.  

19                 The mayor of New York City has urged 

20          that there be assurances that the revenues 

21          raised for the pricing zone through the Fix 

22          NYC plan or whatever is enacted go to 

23          New York City subways and buses.  As you 

24          understand it, is the mayor saying that the 

                                                                  123

 1          money collected from transportation needs 

 2          to be dedicated to transportation, which is 

 3          something I very much agree with, or is the 

 4          mayor saying that he's opposed to even a 

 5          small percentage of funding going to the 

 6          roads and bridges of New York City, 

 7          including the MTA's own bridges and 

 8          tunnels?  Or is the mayor saying that he is 

 9          opposed to any of the new revenue going to 

10          the MTA's commuter railroads despite the 

11          fact that a significant percentage of the 

12          money raised would come from residents of 

13          the suburbs of New York City and the fact 

14          that the better the service on Long Island 

15          Railroad and Metro-North Railroad, the less 

16          congestion there will be in New York's 

17          central business district?  

18                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So interpreting 

19          what the mayor means is just going to be 

20          fraught with problems if I state one thing 

21          or the other.  It could mean any and all of 

22          what you've mentioned, as I remember -- the 

23          proposal that was put together is, I 

24          believe, the beginning of a process.  It 

                                                                  124

 1          was exactly that, a proposal.  And I think, 

 2          you know, everybody's going to have 

 3          different opinions.  There are going to be 

 4          public hearings about this, so it's going 

 5          to be involving the Legislature 

 6          significantly.  

 7                 But you asked some very seminal 

 8          questions, whether they came from the mayor 

 9          or not.  How will the proceeds be used?  

10          Will it be used for mass transit?  How do 

11          you define mass transit?  Do you also 

12          include work that may need to be done on 

13          roads and bridges and all of that?

14                 So I think -- I've got to give a lot 

15          of credit to the panel that put together 

16          this report, in that they looked at it from 

17          a point of view -- excuse me.

18                 (Cellphone interruption.)

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  I just ask 

20          for a few extra seconds, Madam Chair.

21                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So -- yes.  

22                 It's one of our board members -- I 

23          have one of our board members who keeps 

24          calling me, it's very important.

                                                                  125

 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  If that board 

 2          member has an answer to my question --

 3                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  No, he won't -- 

 4          he won't --

 5                 (Laughter.)

 6                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  But I'm not 

 7          sure there is any answer to your question, 

 8          because this is the beginning of a process 

 9          in which all of those questions will be 

10          asked and answered through the legislative 

11          process.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  Well, could I 

13          ask, Chairman Lhota, whether you yourself 

14          subscribe to any of the principles as 

15          outlined in my earlier question as to the 

16          extent that new revenues are raised, of 

17          what principles should be applied to how 

18          they are allocated, whether within the MTA 

19          or beyond?

20                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Speaking for 

21          myself and only myself and the MTA in that 

22          process, I think the most important aspect 

23          is, and similar to what the Governor did in 

24          the Executive Budget, is that whatever 

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 1          monies are dedicated to the MTA, it's to be 

 2          done in a direct approach and a lockbox 

 3          approach and avoiding going through the 

 4          general funds.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  And in terms 

 6          of the role the commuter railroads play to 

 7          both the vitality of New York City and its 

 8          central business district, do you think 

 9          it's fair to say that improvements to the 

10          commuter railroads are part of ensuring 

11          that the New York City metropolitan area 

12          has a robust way that ensures the 

13          congestion in central Manhattan is not 

14          onerous for the residents of New York City?

15                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So, 

16          Assemblymember, I agree with you that a 

17          robust mass transit system is not just the 

18          subways but it includes the commuter rails, 

19          and the commuter rails are not just outside 

20          the City of New York.  The Long Island 

21          Railroad has thirteen stations, I believe, 

22          in Queens and in Brooklyn.  We're talking 

23          about building new stations for 

24          Metro-North, additional stations for 

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 1          additional -- in the Bronx.  They're 

 2          critical to keep reducing congestion in 

 3          Manhattan.  

 4                 Anything we can do to prevent cars 

 5          from coming in and using mass transit is 

 6          not just only good for congestion, it's 

 7          also good for the environment, it's also 

 8          good for the economic development of the 

 9          entire region.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  And if I 

11          could, from that last question, ask a 

12          specific Metro-North question -- can you or 

13          one of your colleagues please provide our 

14          joint committees with an update on where 

15          Metro-North is on the process of upgrading 

16          the White Plains train station?  Which is, 

17          as you know, the busiest station outside of 

18          New York City in the Metro-North system.  

19                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Last December 

20          we approved going forward with the contract 

21          to renovate White Plains Station.  We are 

22          moving forward.  It is one of the enhanced 

23          stations of the Metro-North region that 

24          will be replaced, and you're right, it is 

                                                                  128

 1          critical.  And I will also add, as someone 

 2          who's used it quite frequently, it's in 

 3          severe need of being modernized.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  Thank you 

 5          very much.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 7                 So we're going for second rounds 

 8          now, Chairman.  And I wanted to ask you 

 9          about the Long Island third track project, 

10          and it's my understanding that a 

11          design-build contract recently was awarded.  

12          Could you please comment on the timeline -- 

13          when does it start, when does it end -- for 

14          construction?  

15                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So the third 

16          rail project is in its very preliminary 

17          stages, so it's my belief it's started.  

18          The equipment for the new rail, the showing 

19          how the new rail will be laid down there, 

20          has already started.  We're working with 

21          the local communities -- I don't see 

22          Senator Elaine Phillips -- but working with 

23          Senator Phillips as well on some of the 

24          communities in Nassau County, as well as 

                                                                  129

 1          Senator Kaminsky.  

 2                 As far as it's a third track, 

 3          $1.5 million --

 4                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  It 

 5          includes not only the third track, it 

 6          includes the elimination of several 

 7          important grade crossings as well as 

 8          replacing grade crossings in a way that 

 9          secures them off the street grid.  

10                 So we're very excited about it.  It 

11          has just started.  There's -- the contract 

12          is awarded to the consortium of this 

13          design-build team, and we'll be working 

14          together with that team and the Long Island 

15          Railroad and our capital construction group 

16          to advance the project as quickly as 

17          possible.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  And 

19          Chairman, thank you for bringing up Senator 

20          Elaine Phillips.  She's been a true 

21          champion for her communities that are 

22          affected -- Floral Park, New Hyde Park.  

23          And there's been concern for years, as you 

24          know, about disruption in those 

                                                                  130

 1          communities.

 2                 So you're saying that you are 

 3          working with the leaders and the residents 

 4          to make sure that there's as little 

 5          disruption as possible?

 6                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  We are 

 7          actually, yes, we are working with all of 

 8          the communities and have memoranda of 

 9          understanding with many of the mayors of 

10          our -- the town supervisors and everyone 

11          else who is involved.  

12                 As you know, we've developed it in 

13          such a way that we're not taking any 

14          personal property, but it's always going to 

15          be disruptive when you build along the rail 

16          line, and we are committed to doing 

17          everything we can to not be disruptive.  

18                 As Ronnie mentioned as well, what 

19          we're doing is also, instead of elevating 

20          the track -- because when you elevate the 

21          track, it makes it noisier in the 

22          community -- we're going to keep the track 

23          the same.  We're going to have underpasses 

24          so the roads will go underneath.  You will 

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 1          no longer be having cars have to stop at 

 2          the crossing because a train is going 

 3          through.  It will allow for better flow of 

 4          traffic.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Now, you said the 

 6          cost is $1.5 billion.  I thought it was 

 7          more like $2.6 or -- has the cost gone up?  

 8          And how will it be paid for?

 9                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  It's 

10          funded in the capital program.  That's 

11          $1.5 billion for the third track; another 

12          $450 million is in the capital program for 

13          those grade crossings I mentioned.  That's 

14          actually being funded through the New York 

15          State Department of Transportation.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

17                 Just switching gears a little bit, I 

18          want to ask about fares, Chairman.  So the 

19          subway and bus fares have risen six 

20          times -- or by nearly 50 percent -- since 

21          2007, and that's about three times the 

22          inflation rate.  They're scheduled to go up 

23          again in March of 2019.  

24                 So again, I think it's a 

                                                                  132

 1          controlling-cost issue.  Could you address 

 2          that?  And does the MTA plan on sticking to 

 3          its schedule of 4 percent every other year 

 4          in increases?

 5                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So back in 2010 

 6          the then-governor, then-majority leader, 

 7          and then-speaker all came to an agreement 

 8          with the creation of the PM team and 

 9          various other things that there would be 

10          biennial or every-two-year fare and toll 

11          increases to the system, and they would be 

12          approximately at the rate of inflation.  It 

13          has been lately about 2 percent per year, 

14          which is where that 4 percent number comes 

15          in.

16                 And there's been -- when does it 

17          end?  When does it -- you know, we're doing 

18          everything we can to keep the costs down.  

19          On the operating side, we're doing 

20          everything we can to minimize whatever any 

21          increase would be.  We're required by law 

22          to put together a four-year plan.  We do 

23          have a 4 percent increase a little more 

24          than a year from now, but if there's an 

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 1          alternative source of funding available 

 2          we'll use that to minimize, if not 

 3          eliminate, the fare and toll increases 

 4          going forward.  

 5                 Let me hand it over to Bob Foran.

 6                 MTA CFO FORAN:  As the chairman 

 7          mentioned, in 2010 when there was an 

 8          agreement -- also including the PMT, 

 9          because of the MTA's distressed 

10          situation -- if you recall at that time our 

11          real estate revenues had dropped from about 

12          $1.7 billion a year to less than 

13          $400 million a year.  So significant 

14          cost-cutting took place, significant new 

15          tax put in place with PMT, but there was a 

16          higher -- there was a 15 percent fare and 

17          toll increase that was put in place and 

18          agreed upon for, you know, two-year cycles.  

19                 We said we really wanted to get down 

20          to a place where we could do it at the 

21          inflation rate, and what I'm pleased to say 

22          is the last fare and toll increase that 

23          went in place -- if you look at the 

24          commuter railroads, the commuter railroads 

                                                                  134

 1          were 3.75, not the 4 percent that we had 

 2          projected.  If you look at the subway 

 3          fares, the 30-day was 3.9 percent, the 

 4          seven-day was 3.1 percent.  So we put a lot 

 5          of pressure -- and I should say, west of 

 6          Hudson, it was 2 percent.  So we've made 

 7          strong efforts to keep it minimized and 

 8          reduce it as much as possible.

 9                 We are required by statute to have 

10          four-year financial plans.  Because of 

11          that, we have to project our finances.  So 

12          we just, for planning purposes, put a fare 

13          and toll increase in place every two years.  

14          And we pegged it at 4 percent.  That does 

15          not mean that it's going to happen.  We 

16          have to operate on a self-sustaining basis.  

17          So we need to have sufficient revenues or 

18          reduced expenses sufficient to keep our 

19          budget balanced.  

20                 So as we approach 2019, we'll look 

21          to see what our finances are, we'll look to 

22          see what other resources might be 

23          available, and then after public hearings, 

24          after discourse with the public, after our 

                                                                  135

 1          board considers it, then a decision will be 

 2          made whether a fare and toll increase is 

 3          necessary.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  And I 

 5          know that as I said, they've been 

 6          increasing, but you bring up the payroll 

 7          and mobility tax, so fares have been 

 8          increasing and they're set to have another 

 9          public hearing round to possibly go up 

10          again in March of 2019.  

11                 But at the same time, in the 

12          Executive Budget, the General Fund transfer 

13          from the PMT has been reduced from 309 

14          million to 224 million.  

15                 So to me it seems like you're 

16          increasing fares on the ridership at the 

17          same time, in the Governor's budget, 

18          there's a major reduction.  Could you 

19          please address that?

20                 MTA CFO FORAN:  Yes.  And as the 

21          chairman said, there's discussions going on 

22          right now with the Division of Budget 

23          director talking about that 65 million.  

24          This is just the Executive Budget right 

                                                                  136

 1          now.  

 2                 As you all are well aware, there 

 3          will be discussions that go on over the 

 4          next period of time, and then there will be 

 5          negotiations that take place.  We'd like to 

 6          see the 65 put back in and restored to the 

 7          309, but we are quite pleased that on 

 8          balance the proposal will give us directly 

 9          that PMT revenue and not make it subject to 

10          appropriation, which just adds an extra 

11          measure of risk or potential delay should 

12          there be a delay in the budget.

13                 So we're quite pleased to get the 

14          PMT directly if that is what, you know, 

15          eventually takes place.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

17                 Just switching gears to security, 

18          could you comment on security at our -- you 

19          know, in our subway system, at the bridges 

20          and the tunnels, and what actions -- I know 

21          you can't give every detail, but what 

22          actions are being taken?

23                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So we maintain 

24          absolute vigilance in all of our systems -- 

                                                                  137

 1          in subway, buses, commuter rail, and the 

 2          bridges and tunnels.  We have, and a 

 3          perfect example -- as you know, before I 

 4          get into the example, as you know, you 

 5          know, New York has been the result of 

 6          terrorist activity in the past.  Most 

 7          recently, on December 11th of this year, we 

 8          had someone in the subway system at 42nd 

 9          and 8th Avenue had a pipe bomb go off.  But 

10          what was interesting about that, while I 

11          was there and saw the videos, we were able 

12          to determine who did it, where it was, how 

13          it happened, and it was on the -- it was 

14          available to the press relatively quickly.  

15                 I think that's emblematic of the 

16          amount of money that has been spent on 

17          cameras.  We were able to determine where 

18          this person got on, where they switched, 

19          within a relatively short period of time.  

20                 So we have never lost sight of that.  

21          The NYPD patrols the subway system, MTA 

22          police with also the local police, on 

23          Metro-North as well as the Long Island 

24          Railroad -- MTA police in charge of 

                                                                  138

 1          security at Grand Central Terminal -- it is 

 2          a very important subject for us.

 3                 As you know, we came up with the 

 4          term that's used throughout the world now, 

 5          "If you see something, say something."  We 

 6          can't say that enough.  To our passengers, 

 7          we think it's really important.  It's for 

 8          their safety, it's for their family's 

 9          safety, and for everyone in New York.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

11          Chairman.  

12                 As somebody who rides the subway 

13          quite frequently when I'm in New York City, 

14          and I have to go there on business 

15          oftentimes --

16                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Thank you.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Yes, I'm a 

18          customer.

19                 What I've noticed over the past 

20          several years is that it seems like more 

21          and more there's a negative experience, 

22          unfortunately, on the subway.  

23                 I commend Senator Savino for her 

24          leadership in going after sexual predators.  

                                                                  139

 1          I've seen it myself happen.  Unfortunately, 

 2          I've seen people with severe mental illness 

 3          acting out, decompensating, I've seen 

 4          panhandlers that are demanding money from 

 5          people, and it makes for a very 

 6          uncomfortable experience.  

 7                 And I know it's not just me, it's 

 8          everybody on the subway car that is going 

 9          through that.  And I know the New York Post 

10          last October took a picture of a homeless 

11          man sleeping under some seats in a subway 

12          car.  

13                 So you addressed it a little bit, 

14          and I'm glad to hear that you have a 

15          program.  It just seems to me that when 

16          those things happen, however, you feel like 

17          you're not on an island.  I've never -- I 

18          know that you're very focused on security.  

19          I've never seen a police officer on a 

20          subway car that I've been riding on.  When 

21          you see something like that, it's not 

22          clear -- it wasn't clear to me what you 

23          should do.  

24                 And then I guess you have a camera 

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 1          system, but how do you report something?  

 2          Because, you know, there's nobody to tell 

 3          immediately.

 4                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So on two 

 5          different approaches:  Number one, I 

 6          recently had a meeting with the police 

 7          commissioner to talk about exactly that, 

 8          needing to see more uniforms, not just 

 9          un-uniformed folks on the subway.  So you 

10          don't see the un-uniformed, but I do think 

11          we need to see that uniformed presence, 

12          because that in and of itself is a great 

13          deterrent.

14                 In the process of that, we now have 

15          a new chief of the transit police.  Ronnie 

16          Hakim and I have met with him last week, he 

17          started last week.  Both his parents worked 

18          in the New York City transit system, he 

19          understands it instinctively, and we talked 

20          about new approaches, to see more presence, 

21          more -- how to deal with the homeless 

22          issues and how to deal with the panhandling 

23          and all of that.  So I think you'll see a 

24          reinvigorated approach to the 

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 1          subway-related issues overall.  

 2                 And as far as reporting is 

 3          concerned, we've actually seen an increase 

 4          in reporting due to the fact that we now 

 5          have throughout the system -- at least at 

 6          the stops, and sometimes it bleeds into the 

 7          system -- the ability of people to use the 

 8          internet, to be able to send text messages, 

 9          to be able to send telephone -- make phone 

10          calls.  

11                 We now have, on each and every 

12          platform, "help points," it's called.  It's 

13          a large blue box where you can actually 

14          press a button for an emergency or a 

15          separate button for information.  There's 

16          someone who will answer that 24/7.  There 

17          are those ways to deal with that issue of 

18          communication.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you for 

20          that, that's great.  Continue to build on 

21          that; I think that would be phenomenal for 

22          the ridership.

23                 Switching to congestion pricing, I 

24          know a lot of my colleagues have very 

                                                                  142

 1          serious questions and issues related to 

 2          that proposal.  And the revenue source such 

 3          as congestion pricing isn't really built 

 4          into the 2015-2019 capital program.  So you 

 5          already have a set program in place, why is 

 6          there a need for congestion pricing now?

 7                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Well, the 

 8          congestion pricing proposal as was put 

 9          together in this report in January of 2018 

10          is talking about the implementation of 

11          congestion pricing a couple of years from 

12          now.  

13                 There are three phases to it.  And 

14          so as we are now in the process of the very 

15          early stages of developing the capital 

16          program from 2020-2024, it will clearly be 

17          needed, congestion pricing, for that next 

18          capital program as we try to modernize the 

19          system.

20                 I would also say that looking at 

21          congestion pricing just for capital is one 

22          way to look at it.  I'm also looking at any 

23          amount of monies that can come in that we 

24          should also look at for operating purposes, 

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 1          to keep or eliminate fare and toll 

 2          increases.  It's a source of funding, and 

 3          if we can do that to keep down the -- your 

 4          prior question or your earlier question 

 5          about fares going up, I think, is a very 

 6          good way to look at it, to both keep fares 

 7          and tolls down as well as for a capital 

 8          program.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So for lack of a 

10          better term, a better technical term, the 

11          MTA's relationship with the city seems to 

12          be like cats and dogs.  And there's a lot 

13          of back and forth that goes on, and the 

14          city has been criticized for not agreeing 

15          to contribute to the subway action plan.  

16          And, as you know much better than I, that's 

17          designed to deal with some of the dire 

18          issues that keep coming up.

19                 If the city were to contribute more 

20          to the MTA, would that reduce the need that 

21          you just outlined for a congestion pricing 

22          plan?

23                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I sincerely 

24          doubt that that would remove the need for 

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 1          congestion pricing.  Congestion pricing 

 2          is -- there are two problems that are being 

 3          addressed.  One is one of congestion.  The 

 4          second one was using the economic side of 

 5          congestion pricing to assist in mass 

 6          transit.

 7                 I think that the amount of money 

 8          that is talked about being generated 

 9          overall would -- I'm not sure the city 

10          would be in a position to do the full 

11          amount of congestion pricing.  That being 

12          said, as I said before to another member, I 

13          do think we're -- MTA is looking for a 

14          partner.  And I've said this over and over 

15          again, and some people really don't want to 

16          accept what I think is factual, and it is 

17          factual:  The New York City Transit 

18          Authority is owned by the City of New York, 

19          and it's been leased to the MTA for us to 

20          operate.  We operate the system, but under 

21          the statutes, I believe, as you read 

22          them -- and I'm not an attorney, but I 

23          don't think you need to be an attorney to 

24          read the law that basically says that, and 

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 1          was reiterated in 1981, that the city is 

 2          responsible for the capital program.  No 

 3          one's asking them to cover the entire 

 4          capital program, but we are asking for more 

 5          of a partnership.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I agree, that's a 

 7          good idea.

 8                 Switching gears, just one more 

 9          question and then I won't take a third 

10          round.  

11                 In Part N of the Governor's 

12          proposal, there's a section that deals with 

13          procurement reform.  And Senator Dilan 

14          touched on this a little bit earlier, so I 

15          was really glad to see that, but I had some 

16          follow-up questions.  And basically that 

17          increases the CO bidding threshold for MTA 

18          to a million dollars for purchases and 

19          public works, eliminates the 15-day notice 

20          period that's required now, and authorizes 

21          the MTA board of directors to terminate, 

22          modify, or amend any service or funding 

23          agreement already approved that either does 

24          not have a defined duration or has a 

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 1          duration longer than 20 years.

 2                 So what specific contracts would the 

 3          MTA board of directors seek to amend or 

 4          terminate?

 5                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So I'm not sure 

 6          what -- I know what that section says, 

 7          but -- and I don't have an answer for you 

 8          for what contracts we would seek to 

 9          determine -- and I have asked counsel to 

10          look at what we have that's greater than 

11          20 years overall, to be able to look at 

12          that, and once I determine that, I'll 

13          discuss it with you --

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Do you know why 

15          that was included in the Governor's 

16          language?

17                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I do not.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And the final 

19          question.  Are you aware of any precedents 

20          for this type of authority?

21                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  No, I am not 

22          aware of precedents at all, I'm sorry.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So you're saying 

24          it needs further examination.

                                                                  147

 1                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Yes.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  Thank you.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

 4          Jo Anne Simon.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN SIMON:  Good morning.  

 6          Thank you very much.

 7                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Good morning.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN SIMON:  I wanted to 

 9          just piggyback on the issues about the 

10          Governor's proposed changes to the 

11          procurement process that would allow 

12          certain kinds of contracts to be let by the 

13          MTA and increase those thresholds --

14                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Sure.

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN SIMON:  -- by which 

16          you would then have to -- you know, one of 

17          the issues that keeps coming up in 

18          conversations with the public in my 

19          district is a lack of confidence in the 

20          MTA's use of funds.  

21                 The New York Times article a couple 

22          of weeks ago about the cost overruns and 

23          the fact that nobody knew where this money 

24          was going is something that is really of 

                                                                  148

 1          concern to people.  I'm wondering how you 

 2          can address that for us.

 3                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So for the 

 4          record, everyone, the Assemblymember is my 

 5          Assemblymember.  So it's good to see you, 

 6          Jo Anne.  

 7                 I made it a commitment when I came 

 8          back just in July of this year to get to a 

 9          situation where we don't have the cost 

10          overruns, that we do things more 

11          efficiently, that we do things on a more 

12          professional basis, that we get more 

13          competitive bids in.  And we've had some 

14          successes in that area.  

15                 Some of the stations that we've 

16          renovated in Brooklyn, in Assemblymember 

17          Ortiz's district, they came in under budget 

18          and sooner.  In your district, when we did 

19          the Montague Street Tunnel, it opened up 

20          earlier than was expected.  And I would 

21          like to see more and more of that.  

22                 The New York Times article, which we 

23          participated in by providing them this 

24          information, that's exactly what I don't 

                                                                  149

 1          want to happen again.  But it also helped 

 2          elevate the nature of the problem that we 

 3          have:  We're not getting as many 

 4          contractors bidding on our projects.  

 5                 We need to get more bidding on our 

 6          projects.  We need to work with the 

 7          building trades about putting together 

 8          good, solid project labor agreements so 

 9          that we can spend my dollars and your 

10          dollars and every other New York taxpayer's 

11          dollars more efficiently.  And we're 

12          absolutely committed to doing that.  

13                 The procurement reform, believe me, 

14          the number of contracts that we do and the 

15          amount of business that we do, when you 

16          look at it, we're only talking about a 

17          change that would have an impact on just 

18          6 percent, but it gives you in the volume 

19          of types of things.  What I'd like to do is 

20          to -- it's not about raising it from a 

21          point of view, we're going to go to the 

22          board with each and every even competitive 

23          bid in the process, but expedite it to get 

24          it done faster.  

                                                                  150

 1                 I think the procurement process is 

 2          burdened with a lot of bureaucracy.  That's 

 3          what needs to -- that's what I'd like to be 

 4          able to cut out.  We have to do a lot of 

 5          work inside, but we also need some 

 6          legislative fixes as well.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN SIMON:  Okay.  I want 

 8          to also ask about one more parochial issue, 

 9          and that is the restoration of the B71 bus, 

10          which is a huge issue, east to west traffic 

11          in Brooklyn.  We have -- a group of us have 

12          proposed restoring it, expanding it so it 

13          reaches further out into Crown Heights, but 

14          also connecting up and going through the 

15          Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel to Manhattan.  

16          Which would really ease a lot of the 

17          problem on Red Hook, which is a transit 

18          desert, and ease a lot of peoples' commute 

19          into the city.

20                 In parts of my district we are 

21          affected by the F Train.  And while I know 

22          there is a lot of call for F Express, in my 

23          end of the world it would be the F cutting 

24          it by 50 percent, which is a great problem.  

                                                                  151

 1                 And to that end -- I'm bringing in a 

 2          couple of things here -- you know, what's 

 3          your view on the need for another tube?  

 4          One of the problems we have is we only have 

 5          three tubes going into Manhattan.

 6                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Subway tubes, 

 7          you're talking about.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN SIMON:  Subway tubes, 

 9          right.

10                 So it's obviously not going to be 

11          something happening overnight, but it is 

12          something that we've needed for a couple of 

13          decades.  I'm curious what your view is on 

14          that and whether that might help, for 

15          example, long-term planning that would make 

16          a big difference in the ability of us to 

17          carry more capacity between the boroughs.

18                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Right.  So in 

19          answer to the last question about the tube, 

20          I believe that -- I will look at that, but 

21          I do believe with a better signal system -- 

22          as you know, the Clark Street Tunnel is 

23          shut down every weekend right now to be 

24          able to get more -- a better signal system 

                                                                  152

 1          installed, a newer signal system installed, 

 2          so we can get more through there.  The 2 

 3          and the 3 are rerouting, in some cases the 

 4          4 and the 5 as well, they can go through 

 5          there if we reroute it in Manhattan -- but 

 6          in any event, you know what, I will look at 

 7          that.

 8                 Regarding the B71, we are doing a 

 9          study right now.  We were doing a study 

10          before the information came out -- I think 

11          it was about the budget and the State of 

12          the State -- about potential changes and 

13          the possibility of a new subway line going 

14          into Red Hook and us examining what, in 

15          conjunction with the Port Authority, what 

16          transit needs could we view in connection 

17          with an overall renovation of lots of 

18          things going on in Red Hook.

19                 So it's being done.

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN SIMON:  Okay.  And 

21          then one other question, and that is that 

22          I've read the Fix NY plan and there is 

23          much, I think, to recommend the approaches 

24          that are proposed there.  But one thing 

                                                                  153

 1          that I never see in terms of easing 

 2          congestion and improving the lives of New 

 3          Yorkers is ADA access to our subway 

 4          stations.  

 5                 And I know that it's been 25 years 

 6          and we still haven't gotten to the 100 key 

 7          stations.  Many of those stations are no 

 8          longer key -- what are key stations, 

 9          because of different demographics and 

10          patterns of where people are living and the 

11          train lines that people are using, are not 

12          even viable anymore.  And it's only a 

13          fraction, really, of the subways.

14                 What is the MTA doing to change that 

15          picture?

16                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Right.  Well, 

17          let me -- Ronnie has the statistics, and 

18          I'll follow up.

19                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  Sure.  

20          As part of this ongoing investment in 

21          accessibility for the subway system, this 

22          capital program has almost a billion -- 

23          1B -- billion dollars in projects to 

24          increase elevators and accessibility at 

                                                                  154

 1          stations.  We currently have about 117 

 2          ADA-accessible stations.  When we're done 

 3          with the investments in this program, we'll 

 4          be adding another 26 stations to that mix.  

 5                 The commitment that we have is to 

 6          continue to work with the disabled 

 7          community to identify the right places to 

 8          get good accessibility investments and 

 9          service the communities that need those 

10          elevators in addition to the maintenance of 

11          those elevators as well, which is a big 

12          topic for us.

13                 We've recently negotiated with our 

14          unions at the TWU to increase specialist 

15          titles so that we can retain elevator 

16          maintainers.  That's been a huge problem 

17          for us in the past, is that we've lost this 

18          workforce.  We need to bring them back and 

19          we need to preposition them in the right 

20          locations so that they are able to hop on a 

21          problem as soon as it exists, and also 

22          communicate out into the community what are 

23          the statuses of our elevators and their 

24          service.

                                                                  155

 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN SIMON:  And do you 

 2          have a list of those stations that you 

 3          think are going to be coming on board?  

 4          Because I'd love to see those.

 5                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  

 6          Absolutely.  We can provide that.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN SIMON:  Thank you.

 8                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Thank you.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  Our 

10          next speaker is Marty Dilan.  

11                 Senator Dilan.

12                 SENATOR DILAN:  Thank you again.  I 

13          just want to follow up on the procurement 

14          question.  I know that I asked the question 

15          of approximately how many contracts fall 

16          under the $1 million threshold, and the 

17          answer I got was 6 percent.  Can you attach 

18          a cash value to that?

19                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  Sure.  

20          The 6 percent represents the amount of 

21          money that would be allocated in these 

22          transactions.  And between 100,000 and a 

23          million, you're really talking about 

24          417,000 out of a $6.6 billion number.  So 

                                                                  156

 1          it's a fraction of that larger 

 2          competitively procured purchases.

 3                 SENATOR DILAN:  So you're talking 

 4          about 6 percent overall.  So would I be 

 5          right to say that that overall is an 

 6          insignificant amount of money of the 

 7          overall picture?

 8                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  It's a 

 9          small percentage of what we actually buy 

10          every year.

11                 SENATOR DILAN:  All right.  I don't 

12          know if you could answer the next question, 

13          but I would like to know approximately how 

14          many bids you currently get on anything 

15          over 100,000 and under a million.  I can 

16          get that number later on from you.

17                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  The 

18          number of bids per solicitation?

19                 SENATOR DILAN:  Yeah.

20                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  We can 

21          provide that.

22                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  We'll provide 

23          that.

24                 SENATOR DILAN:  Excuse me?

                                                                  157

 1                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  We will provide 

 2          that to you.  We don't have that with us.

 3                 SENATOR DILAN:  I expected that.

 4                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  But that's an 

 5          interesting question.

 6                 SENATOR DILAN:  But saying that, I 

 7          know that in previous budget hearings we 

 8          have also requested information on items 

 9          that you particularly did not have the 

10          information readily available and -- not 

11          under your administration, but previous, 

12          we've been told that you would get back to 

13          us on certain information.  So I just want 

14          to see if I can get an update on what's 

15          going on with the bus partitions, which in 

16          the past they said they would provide that 

17          information to us.

18                 Also, I'm glad there was a question 

19          about the ADA compliance.  I'm very 

20          concerned about that, because I get many 

21          calls within my district of seniors and the 

22          disabled not having access to mass transit.  

23          So I'm very concerned about that, and I 

24          would like to have information on that.  

                                                                  158

 1          But again, that's something I can get from 

 2          you later.

 3                 I'm also concerned about stations 

 4          that have been closed in my district, 

 5          certain exits, where I've received 

 6          commitments that they're looking into the 

 7          situation.  I have at least 10 stops.  I 

 8          think that you guys are familiar with the 

 9          ones those are.  But again, out of respect 

10          to my colleagues and the time of others 

11          that still have to testify, I can wait for 

12          that again, sir.  Later on.

13                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Senator Dilan, 

14          if you can assign someone from your staff 

15          and get me their name, we'll work with them 

16          to be able to get the list of questions 

17          that you've --

18                 SENATOR DILAN:  We'll provide that 

19          to you.  

20                 With respect to congestion pricing, 

21          I don't know if you know what the costs 

22          would be for the technology and how would 

23          it be paid.  Or would that be under the 

24          value capture, do you know?  

                                                                  159

 1                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So all I have 

 2          is the information that's included in the 

 3          advisory panel, and they believe the cost 

 4          of technology and the equipment necessary 

 5          is approximately $200 million.  I have no 

 6          way to verify that number or the source of 

 7          that number, since I wasn't involved in 

 8          writing the report.  That's the only 

 9          information I have.

10                 SENATOR DILAN:  All right.  And just 

11          to close, we all know the Canarsie Tube is 

12          a massive task for your system, and the 

13          impact that it will have on your system.  I 

14          just would like to thank you for your 

15          response to my office and to my community, 

16          and your transparency during the entire 

17          briefing of the community with regard to 

18          the closing of the L Train between Bedford 

19          and First Avenue.  

20                 And I also respect the commitment 

21          you have made to the L Train Coalition, in 

22          respect to meeting with them and keeping 

23          them informed.  Just last night you had -- 

24          I believe it's your president of the 

                                                                  160

 1          Transit Authority --

 2                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:   Yeah.

 3                 SENATOR DILAN:  -- within the 

 4          district informing the community, and I 

 5          just hope that we keep that up.  Thank you.

 6                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Thank you.  

 7          Thank you, Senator.  

 8                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  Thank 

 9          you.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

12          Félix Ortiz for a question.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Thank you, Madam 

14          Chair, for giving me the opportunity to ask 

15          a few questions.  

16                 Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman.  First 

17          of all, I would like to thank you very 

18          much.  I thought that we was spending 

19          almost six months together when we was 

20          doing from Prospect Park west to 

21          53rd Street to Arlington {ph} Street subway 

22          station, and I would like to thank your 

23          staff for being so kind to my staff, 

24          answering all the questions that my 

                                                                  161

 1          constituents addressed during those times 

 2          of rebuilding and renovation.  

 3                 Today I would like to also thank you 

 4          on behalf of my constituents about B37, the 

 5          Third Avenue, that bus that was restored.  

 6          And talking about restoration, I also would 

 7          like to punch to make sure that we will be 

 8          able to also restore B71, which is very 

 9          critical for -- from Assemblywoman Simon to 

10          my site, it's critical.  We have too many 

11          seniors in that particular area that need 

12          this type of transportation.

13                 I have a few questions.  Question 

14          number one is regarding you have a budget 

15          that is about $16.6 billion, that is your 

16          funding level?  

17                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Yes.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  That's correct?  

19          From that $16.6 billion budget level that 

20          you have, how much of that is federal, 

21          state and city, what percentage?  

22                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  In that, we 

23          don't get -- there's no federal money in 

24          our operating budget at all.

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 1                 So to look at our $16 billion in 

 2          revenues, 39 percent comes from a 

 3          farebox -- that will either be from the 

 4          commuter railroads or the subway and buses; 

 5          we have 12 percent comes from tolls; 

 6          34 percent comes from dedicated taxes; and 

 7          another 8 percent comes from state and 

 8          local government and their subsidies, 

 9          8 percent.  And the remaining revenues, 6 

10          or 7 percent, come from various different 

11          sources.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  There's been a 

13          lot of conversation about the congestion 

14          pricing again.  And I would like to know, 

15          if we do move forward to congestion 

16          pricing, what is the guarantee that this 

17          money will be earmarked and used 

18          specifically for rebuilding and doing 

19          renovations for the MTA?  

20                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So it would be 

21          my expectation, as it was the panel's 

22          report, that it will be used for the MTA.  

23                 Prior questions were asked about 

24          will it be used for, you know, anything at 

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 1          all related to the commuter rail lines.  

 2          This is the beginning of a negotiating 

 3          process.  But my expectation is, and as I 

 4          mentioned before, I think the monies -- the 

 5          amount of monies that we're talking about 

 6          here can be used for multiple different 

 7          areas within the MTA, being both a source 

 8          of money for the capital program as well as 

 9          a way to keep down fare and toll increases.  

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  You know, the 

11          only concern I have -- you and I have the 

12          same experience, we both came from OMB.  

13          You were the director, I was a budget 

14          analyst at OMB.  And sometimes when we look 

15          for revenue to come up with great ideas to 

16          fund some programs, sometimes something 

17          called the budget gap gets in the middle.  

18          And sometimes that money gets deviated to 

19          close the budget gap.  

20                 So one of my biggest challenges and 

21          concerns is that I want to make sure that 

22          as we move forward and we continue to have 

23          conversations about congestion pricing, 

24          that we don't get confused about what's 

                                                                  164

 1          happening in Washington, what happened with 

 2          the budget gap, and trying to deviate the 

 3          conversation and use those revenues or 

 4          those resources to close the budget gap.  

 5                 And that is the reason why I'm 

 6          trying to be very cautious about the 

 7          congestion pricing as we move forward.  I 

 8          hope that we will be able to use it for the 

 9          MTA, to rebuild, renovate and also to bring 

10          new access to other communities as well.

11                 My last question has to do with 

12          Red Hook.  As you know, Red Hook is 

13          running -- you mentioned Red Hook before.  

14          The Governor stated in the State of the 

15          State to do a study finally, a study that 

16          I've been pushing for almost 20 years.  

17          Finally somebody saw the light into the 

18          tunnel.  So hopefully we will see that 

19          report coming out.  

20                 My question to you is, Red Hook is 

21          getting overcrowded, Red Hook is getting a 

22          lot of people coming into Red Hook these 

23          days.  We only have two bus services into 

24          Red Hook.  And sometimes those buses are 

                                                                  165

 1          overcrowded, and sometimes they are late as 

 2          well.

 3                 So is anything in the pipeline to 

 4          enhance public transportation into 

 5          Red Hook?  And if it's so, what is the 

 6          timetable for it?  

 7                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  We're 

 8          evaluating Red Hook right now, not only at 

 9          the direction of the Governor regarding 

10          Port Authority and the MTA looking to all 

11          of the -- what needs to be done to the 

12          businesses there as well as transit, but 

13          we're needing to look.  You know, 

14          demographics all throughout the city are 

15          changing.  The demographics in Red Hook in 

16          particular have changed significantly in a 

17          very short period of time.  More people 

18          living there, more people working there, 

19          and we need to evaluate that, especially 

20          with buses and what gets in and what gets 

21          out.  Right now there's really only one bus 

22          that goes down Van Brunt Street, and we 

23          need to find a more significant enhancement 

24          to the bus traffic there.

                                                                  166

 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Thank you very 

 2          much.  And I'm looking forward to working 

 3          with you also to enhance elevators in the 

 4          subway station.  Thank you very much.

 5                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Thank you, sir.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 7                 Senator Rivera.

 8                 SENATOR RIVERA:  Thank you.  

 9                 Round two, sir.  All right.  You 

10          already started going down this road a 

11          little bit with Senator Krueger, so 

12          regarding the funding that you are -- that 

13          this budget proposal asks for a 

14          restructuring of how the MTA gets its 

15          funding.  There is -- if I'm not mistaken, 

16          the way that it works is that the -- 

17          technically the city owns -- I wrote this 

18          down somewhere because somebody explained 

19          it to me -- the city owns the system but 

20          the state leases it.  Right?

21                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  The city owns 

22          the system, that is correct.  The subway 

23          system.

24                 SENATOR RIVERA:  Okay.  But also 

                                                                  167

 1          when we're talking about the MTA region, 

 2          we're not just talking about the City of 

 3          New York but New York City, Suffolk, 

 4          Nassau, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, 

 5          Putnam and Dutchess; is that correct?  

 6                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Yes.

 7                 SENATOR RIVERA:  Okay.  So --

 8                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  It's called the 

 9          Metropolitan Transportation District, yes.

10                 SENATOR RIVERA:  Right.  But the MTA 

11          region is generally defined as those 12 

12          full counties.

13                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Yes, that is 

14          correct. 

15                 SENATOR RIVERA:  Okay.  So the way 

16          that it has been historically structured, 

17          the way that the funding -- briefly, 

18          obviously, because I only have five 

19          minutes, but just so I make sure that -- 

20          you know, you're the expert here.  So how 

21          has it been historically, as far as capital 

22          needs for the MTA system, how has it 

23          historically been organized?  How has that 

24          worked?

                                                                  168

 1                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  How has it been 

 2          arranged?  It generally is a substantial 

 3          portion of it goes to the New York City 

 4          subway system overall, is where the 

 5          substantial need goes.  Right now in the 

 6          current capital plan, 61 percent goes to 

 7          New York City Transit --

 8                 SENATOR RIVERA:  No, no, sir, I'm 

 9          sorry, I didn't make myself clear.  I'm not 

10          saying where it goes, I'm saying that -- we 

11          can get to that later -- where it comes 

12          from.

13                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Oh, sources.  

14          Sorry, sources.

15                 SENATOR RIVERA:  Historically, how 

16          have these capital funds, where have they 

17          come from?  Because if I'm not mistaken, 

18          what we're talking about now is a radical 

19          restructuring of the way that the funding 

20          comes to the MTA.

21                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Right.  And 

22          we're talking about capital and where the 

23          money comes --

24                 SENATOR RIVERA:  That is correct, 

                                                                  169

 1          sir.

 2                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Okay, that is 

 3          correct.  

 4                 So of the current capital plan 

 5          that's approved by the Capital Program 

 6          Review Board that's $29.5 billion, 

 7          $6.9 billion, call it $7 billion, comes 

 8          from the federal government, with a grant 

 9          from a federal government.  In addition to 

10          that, MTA issues debt through the form of 

11          $7.6 billion.  We come from our operating 

12          budget, 2.3 billion in pay-as-you-go 

13          capital; 8.5 comes from the State of 

14          New York; 2.5 is coming from the City of 

15          New York.  

16                 And on top of that we have, within 

17          the MTA, other sources of the MTA as well 

18          as basically asset sales and leases of, 

19          combined, about a billion dollars.  

20                 SENATOR RIVERA:  So historically -- 

21          I'm not that good at math, so I didn't 

22          write down all the numbers that you said --

23                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  We can provide 

24          it to you.  That's fine.

                                                                  170

 1                 SENATOR RIVERA:  The most that I'm 

 2          interested in is just I want to get for the 

 3          record the way that historically the 

 4          capital funding has come to the MTA.  We 

 5          are asking you folks -- well, this budget 

 6          proposal is asking for a complete redesign 

 7          of that; right?  In other words, the money 

 8          would then be required to come strictly 

 9          from the city according to -- or a much 

10          larger chunk of it.  

11                 And so the question I'm asking is if 

12          historically that has not been the case, 

13          there has been responsibility -- I mean, as 

14          I understand it, the system is designed so 

15          that there's a lot of different funding 

16          streams that come to it.  Revenue that -- I 

17          remember back in 2011 when I first found 

18          out about dedicated taxes -- and I'm making 

19          quotation marks in the air, right, because 

20          these go to the General Fund and then get 

21          swept all over the place.  And then as an 

22          agency, over the years, you folks have had 

23          to go into debt to cover operating 

24          expenses, et cetera.

                                                                  171

 1                 The question is the -- because it 

 2          seems to me that is -- I'm trying to figure 

 3          out why this is coming now.  And 

 4          particularly because if historically there 

 5          has been -- the way it has been organized, 

 6          most of the funding has not come from the 

 7          City of New York, because just statutorily 

 8          it's organized like that, it has been the 

 9          responsibility of the agency to get it from 

10          other places, yet the agency has had to go 

11          into debt to be able to cover some of the 

12          expenses because of some things that the 

13          legislatures and the administrations over 

14          the years have done.

15                 So we're getting to a point now that 

16          as opposed to trying to talk about how we 

17          can make those dedicated taxes actually 

18          dedicated, and we can make sure that the 

19          way that it has usually happened comes -- 

20          actually gets used for capital funds -- and 

21          I know I'm running out of time, but I want 

22          to end the question so that I can get the 

23          answer from you.  And I may need a third 

24          round, because I'm still trying to figure 

                                                                  172

 1          out why is this radical restructuring of 

 2          the way that it's supposed to have been 

 3          done historically, why now?  And why like 

 4          this?

 5                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Okay.  So, 

 6          Madam Chairs, just forgive me, as this may 

 7          take a little bit longer.  If it's too 

 8          long, just tell me.  Because this is a very 

 9          important question that Senator Rivera is 

10          asking.

11                 And it's somewhat historical.  And 

12          when you look at funding over the last 

13          twenty or thirty years, sometimes the city 

14          has given more than the state, sometimes 

15          the state has given more than the city.  

16          It's gone back and forth.  There was a 

17          period of time when the federal government 

18          was a real partner and gave more than 

19          either the city or the state in various 

20          different five-year capital plans.  

21                 But the basic history is as follows.  

22          New York City owns the New York City subway 

23          system.  In 1953, it created the New York 

24          City Transit Authority, basically for the 

                                                                  173

 1          purposes of raising tolls.  At that point, 

 2          the City of New York still, as the owner, 

 3          was responsible to the New York City 

 4          Transit Authority; the appointees were from 

 5          the borough presidents and the mayor at the 

 6          time.  Zoom all the way -- well, they were 

 7          responsible, the mayor, the city was 

 8          responsible for up to $5 million in any 

 9          capital.  Any amounts above $5 million, the 

10          mayor could veto.  

11                 So zoom all the way up to 1981.  

12          Dick Ravitch is the chairman of the MTA 

13          sitting in this chair.  The City of 

14          New York has just gone through a fiscal 

15          crisis, it was essentially on the verge of 

16          bankruptcy.  The city had no capital plan.  

17          They weren't building schools, they weren't 

18          building police stations, they had no money 

19          to give to any capital program.  

20                 In 1981, you recall the subway 

21          system was in unbelievable disrepair.  

22          Subway cars were full of graffiti, there 

23          were multiple fires in the system.  There 

24          were two or three derailments per week in 

                                                                  174

 1          the New York City subway system at that 

 2          time.

 3                 So then Chairman Ravitch came to the 

 4          state, came here to Albany and said, Look, 

 5          there's an emergency in New York and we 

 6          need to have, the MTA, the ability to issue 

 7          its own debt.  And with that, in the Laws 

 8          of 1981, which I can leave with you, but 

 9          I'd like to read two different sections.  

10          It was basically the statute which is known 

11          as Chapter 314 of the Laws of 1981 where 

12          the Assembly and the Senate, in the bill 

13          that they passed that was then signed into 

14          law by then-Governor Carey -- it said the 

15          following:  "Although under existing laws 

16          and pursuant to its lease with the New York 

17          City Transit Authority, the City of 

18          New York is required to provide for the 

19          capital needs of the Transit Authority.  

20          The City of New York's fiscal needs have 

21          been and are of such magnitude that it has 

22          not done so for some considerable period of 

23          time.  This legislation, without relieving 

24          the city of its contractual or statutory 

                                                                  175

 1          obligations, will permit the Transit 

 2          Authority, by agreement with the MTA, and 

 3          with the assistance of the Triborough 

 4          Bridge and Tunnel Authority, to meet these 

 5          urgent needs."

 6                 Earlier in the section of the law 

 7          the Senate and the Assembly made the 

 8          following statement:  "Unless funds are 

 9          obtained and capital rehabilitation and 

10          improvement programs promptly be 

11          implemented, this district will 

12          deteriorate" -- and there is a quote, it's 

13          the most amazing quote I've ever read from 

14          legislation -- "a clear and present danger 

15          would result to the health, safety and 

16          welfare of its inhabitants and the 

17          inhabitants of the district and the state 

18          at large."

19                 So at that point the State 

20          Legislature gave the MTA the opportunity to 

21          fund what the city is required to fund.  

22          And when they did that, they also said that 

23          they're not being relieved of their 

24          responsibility to provide the capital 

                                                                  176

 1          funds.  No one is asking the city to 

 2          provide all of the capital funds, but to be 

 3          a better -- a larger partner, a 

 4          higher-percentage partner.

 5                 I've been asked publicly, you know, 

 6          well, no one ever knew this.  Well, it's in 

 7          the law, it's in black and white.  I'm not 

 8          a member of the bar, but I know what it 

 9          says in English.  But I knew this in two 

10          other occasions.  When I was budget 

11          director for the City of New York and when 

12          I was deputy mayor in the City of New York, 

13          I knew who owned it.  I knew what the 

14          responsibilities were.  And in the 1980s, 

15          when I was an investment banker doing due 

16          diligence work in the process of 

17          underwriting debt for the MTA, I also knew 

18          that -- what the law did in 1981.  It 

19          wasn't permanent, but there is still on the 

20          books a law that says that the City of 

21          New York is responsible for the capital 

22          program.

23                 I think the Executive Budget that 

24          came out two weeks ago is trying to clarify 

                                                                  177

 1          exactly what this says.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

 3          Hyndman?  Oh.  Assemblywoman Malliotakis?  

 4          Okay.  

 5                 Oh, Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper.

 6                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Deputy Speaker.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HOOPER:  Thank you.  

 8                 Mr. Chairman, thank you for being 

 9          here.  I am Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper.

10                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I'm well aware 

11          of that, Deputy Speaker.  Congratulations.

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HOOPER:  Okay.  before 

13          I begin, and since I am confined to a 

14          certain amount of time, I'm going to start 

15          with the part -- the good stuff first.  

16          Then I'm going to outline what I need 

17          answered, because you have more leeway in 

18          terms of answering, rather than my asking 

19          the question individually.

20                 I want to first thank you for 

21          working with me at my request to do a job 

22          fair at the Roosevelt High School as 

23          relates to MTA having available different 

24          types of employment.  And we're going to be 

                                                                  178

 1          working to put that together, and I thank 

 2          you for the kind letter and for your 

 3          helping me to put that together.

 4                 In addition, one of your star 

 5          employees, her name is Diane McFarlane, 

 6          she's very talented and she has already 

 7          spoken to me that she would like very much 

 8          and would be willing to help us with that.  

 9          So I'm hoping that when we reach out to the 

10          MTA, that they allow her to provide the 

11          talent that we need for this job fair.  

12          That's the good part.

13                 I'm going to ask you now if you 

14          could possibly take notes as to the 

15          questions I'm going to be asking --

16                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I'm ready.

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HOOPER:  -- because 

18          I'm hoping that you will provide me with 

19          the same amount of time to answer these 

20          questions as you did for my other 

21          colleagues.

22                 First of all, I am a consumer.  I am 

23          a consumer.  When I leave my home to come 

24          to Albany to do the people's work, I use 

                                                                  179

 1          public transportation from door to door.  I 

 2          use the Long Island Railroad, Amtrak, 

 3          et cetera.  So what I'm going to ask -- I'm 

 4          asking you for no platitudes, no promises, 

 5          but I'm asking for immediate action because 

 6          we are entitled.  

 7                 And now I'm going to ask you to take 

 8          notes as to what I'm going to be asking you 

 9          to look at.

10                 In the Village of Hempstead, which 

11          is the largest incorporated village in the 

12          entire United States, both inside and 

13          outside {the station} it's dirty, it's 

14          smelly, the bathrooms are unkempt, and it 

15          is a disservice to the people who use it, 

16          including me.  I would like to know also 

17          what is going on at the Long Island 

18          Railroad station.  I see construction in 

19          the property that's adjacent to, in 

20          juxtaposition to the actual building, and I 

21          cannot get any information on what is going 

22          on.

23                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Excuse me, is 

24          that also Hempstead?

                                                                  180

 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HOOPER:  That is in 

 2          the Village of Hempstead, the Hempstead 

 3          Long Island Railroad, the property in 

 4          juxtaposition to the Long Island Railroad.

 5                 Also, there is no taxi stand at the 

 6          Hempstead Long Island Railroad.  So when we 

 7          exit or get on the Long Island Railroad in 

 8          Hempstead, there is no place that we can 

 9          get out of the elements.  No place.

10                 Now let me go to the bus terminal in 

11          Hempstead, which is directly across from 

12          the Long Island Railroad.  If the ASPCA saw 

13          animals going in there, they would sue the 

14          MTA.  But we people have to use it.  

15          Something has to be done.  It's 

16          unacceptable.  It is deplorable.  It is 

17          inhumane.  That's directly connected to the 

18          hub of the Long Island Railroad servicing 

19          the largest incorporated village in the 

20          United States of America.  We pay the same 

21          fares as any other Long Island Railroad 

22          consumer, but we are not receiving 

23          equitable service.  And it's not right.

24                 Not only that, when we want to 

                                                                  181

 1          travel to New York City and back, we have 

 2          to have one hour, we only have trains for 

 3          one hour from Hempstead to New York City.  

 4          One hour.  So in order for us to get to 

 5          New York City in a timely manner, we have 

 6          to travel to Mineola, because we don't have 

 7          the service that they have in Mineola.  

 8                 Yet in Mineola, during the coldest 

 9          days and the rainiest days -- I don't want 

10          people who are traveling at that time to 

11          know that I'm a deputy speaker of New York 

12          State, because the doors are locked, people 

13          cannot get into the station, and they want 

14          to know what is going on, and I don't want 

15          them to know that I am a state 

16          representative, because I have no number 

17          that I can call to say, please, open the 

18          doors so that we can go in and get out of 

19          subzero weather.  That happens in Mineola 

20          quite frequently.  Because when I do travel 

21          to Albany and use that system, I have to 

22          use Mineola in order to get here in a 

23          timely manner.

24                 Last but not least, your cashless 

                                                                  182

 1          system has caused emotional damage, 

 2          intimidation, it has caused my constituents 

 3          to be subjected to their credit scores 

 4          being adversely affected, because when -- 

 5          and I have a constituent who right now went 

 6          through the toll and utilized no cash, but 

 7          she did not receive the bill for about 

 8          90 days.  And when she did get the bill, 

 9          she got the $80 bill, she got the fees, she 

10          got the -- all types of -- it came up to 

11          $433 for her having -- using cashless.

12                 So she called the MTA to find out 

13          what could she do.  What did they do to 

14          her?  Collection.  "Contact collection, 

15          you're in collection."  So she's gone back 

16          and forth between collection and MTA, and 

17          nothing has been done.

18                 So if I sound angry and upset, I am.  

19          It is unfair.  It is deplorable.  It's 

20          disparity, it is injustice that this 

21          community has to be subjected to this type 

22          of service that we pay the same as any 

23          other.

24                 Not last but least, this is the 

                                                                  183

 1          last.  On the Long Island Railroad train, 

 2          in the bathroom, it stinks.

 3                 Thank you.

 4                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I will try to 

 5          answer without any platitudes, as you 

 6          requested.  

 7                 We will work with you.  I will find 

 8          out the situation at Hempstead in the 

 9          station.  I do know the comparison to 

10          Mineola, though.  Mineola is on the main 

11          line.  Every train from all the way out 

12          from Montauk runs through Mineola, so it's 

13          going to have more --

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HOOPER:  We pay the 

15          same fare.

16                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Yeah, but it's 

17          a question of --

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HOOPER:  And it's the 

19          largest incorporated village in the 

20          50 states, the 48 contiguous and the two 

21          noncontiguous states.

22                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I will look 

23          into it.  I'll also work with the county as 

24          well, and the buses, because the buses 

                                                                  184

 1          belong to the county, not the MTA.  

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HOOPER:  I understand 

 3          that.  But it's directly across from --

 4                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I'll work with 

 5          them, I'll work with you.

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HOOPER:  -- it's 

 7          directly across from the Long Island 

 8          Railroad.  We don't have taxis.  Can you 

 9          imagine getting off a train at 2 o'clock in 

10          the morning or 10 o'clock at night and it's 

11          subzero and you have no place to stand or 

12          sit?

13                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  And I'll also 

14          work with the Town of Hempstead over the 

15          parking and the taxi stands, which --

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HOOPER:  Thank you 

17          very much.  I look forward to the job fair.  

18          But I also hope that I'm not just getting 

19          promises, platitudes -- I need action ASAP.

20                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  One thing I 

21          would like to say about the job fair, which 

22          I think is very important for lots of 

23          folks.  You know, we talked earlier about 

24          the Subway Action Plan and the number of 

                                                                  185

 1          jobs we're going to hire.  These jobs, 

 2          which will be union jobs, they'll be 

 3          members of the Transit Workers Union, are 

 4          extremely good-paying jobs.  So if you know 

 5          any young women and young men who want to 

 6          understand the electrical business, want to 

 7          understand, you know, good hard labor, 

 8          these are very good positions.

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HOOPER:  Thank you 

10          very much for that.

11                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So we're going 

12          to all the high schools in New York to help 

13          in that process.

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HOOPER:  Thank you 

15          very much for that.  That's the purpose of 

16          having the job fair, so that these people 

17          in my -- these constituents in my district, 

18          these young people and those who have 

19          experience, can have an opportunity to get 

20          into the workforce.

21                 But in the meantime, because I'm 

22          asking that you allow us to do this and 

23          have Diane McFarlane work with us --

24                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We need to 

                                                                  186

 1          move on.  Excuse me, Deputy Speaker.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HOOPER:  I'm out of 

 3          time.  Thank you.

 4                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Thank you.  

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 6          Senator Savino.

 7                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Senator 

 8          Young.

 9                 First I want to thank the chairman 

10          for his history lesson.  I think it's 

11          important that people really understand the 

12          structure of the funding that's required 

13          for the system.

14                 And as you're hearing here today, 

15          it's no secret that there have always been 

16          winners and losers in the MTA region.  You 

17          know, growing up I lived in Astoria, where 

18          I definitely was in an area that I was a 

19          winner; I could walk to two different train 

20          stations.  But then I went to work for the 

21          city, I was working in South Jamaica, where 

22          the trains ran out, and then far too many 

23          people in South Jamaica depended on buses 

24          that didn't come, and a whole dollar-cab 

                                                                  187

 1          industry grew up around that.  So people 

 2          try and accommodate.  

 3                 But now I live in an area that is 

 4          absolutely the worst transit desert in the 

 5          five boroughs of the City of New York, not 

 6          necessarily in the MTA region.  And there's 

 7          a lot of ideas that have been thrown around 

 8          from the time I got elected, whether it was 

 9          congestion pricing by Mayor Bloomberg 

10          originally, or then when Dick Ravitch sat 

11          here and he presented the bailout program 

12          for the MTA.  And what it always comes up 

13          against is the winners want to protect 

14          their area and the losers continue to 

15          suffer.  

16                 So I know the Governor has now 

17          proposed a plan or a series of plans under 

18          this Fix NY thing, but I myself have been a 

19          sponsor of the Move NY plan, which I 

20          believe makes winners out of everybody 

21          because it reduces the disparities that 

22          affect those of us in the real transit 

23          deserts to reduce tolls for everyone.  It 

24          doesn't seek to just punish people who want 

                                                                  188

 1          to drive into Manhattan, as if somehow or 

 2          other they're doing something wrong.  Far 

 3          too many of my constituents take their cars 

 4          into Manhattan, not because they enjoy 

 5          it -- anybody who sits on the Gowanus 

 6          Expressway can tell you there is no joy in 

 7          that experience, and it's only going to get 

 8          worse -- they do it because they don't have 

 9          a choice.

10                 So the Move NY plan provides 

11          fairness for everyone.  There are no more 

12          winners and losers.  But it also provides a 

13          steady stream of revenue to the MTA that 

14          won't go through Albany.  And it also 

15          benefits the entire region -- Long Island, 

16          Nassau and Suffolk, Orange and Rockland, 

17          Westchester, Putnam.  

18                 Was there any consideration to the 

19          Move NY plan, to the best of your 

20          knowledge, by the appointees to the 

21          Governor's commission, as a better proposal 

22          than just continuing the winners and losers 

23          and maybe capturing a few more dollars 

24          going into Manhattan?

                                                                  189

 1                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So, Senator, I 

 2          have spoken to one or two members who were 

 3          on the panel commission, and they're of the 

 4          belief that they put out a proposal that's 

 5          now going before you, the elected 

 6          officials, to begin this process of moving 

 7          forward.  You know, the MTA will be the 

 8          recipient of some of the funds; the people 

 9          of New York will be the recipient by having 

10          less congestion.  But this is a proposal, 

11          and the process has now begun.  

12                 And I think the question of equity 

13          and fairness by a community is one that was 

14          raised earlier by another member of these 

15          -- an Assemblymember about what does it 

16          mean for west of the Hudson.  And all of 

17          these questions now need to be put out 

18          there.  

19                 The basic concept, though, is there.  

20          Now how do we make it fair?  

21                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Mm-hmm.  Because 

22          again, fairness, I think, is critically 

23          important.  Because, you know, 

24          Assemblywoman Simon are at two different 

                                                                  190

 1          ends of the F train.  Her constituents are 

 2          going to be affected by F Express, but so 

 3          will mine, in a positive way.  But we 

 4          shouldn't be at odds with each other.  And 

 5          we need to find a more steady source of 

 6          revenue for the MTA region -- not just the 

 7          transit system, but the region itself. 

 8                 And finally I have one last 

 9          question.  Since we have both yourself and 

10          Assemblywoman Malliotakis here today, who 

11          do you think would have made a better 

12          mayor?  

13                 (Laughter.)

14                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Assemblymember 

15          Malliotakis, because New York City deserves 

16          a female mayor for once.  

17                 (Laughter; cross-talk.)

18                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Thank you, 

19          Diane.  Thank you.  Talk about history; 

20          there you go.  

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  At least 

22          we know you'd get the 50 percent funding 

23          that you need.

24                 (Laughter.)

                                                                  191

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

 2          Steve Otis for a question.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Thank you, 

 4          Mr. Chairman and crew.  I'm calling to 

 5          raise a question related to Metro-North and 

 6          especially the New Haven Line.  And it's an 

 7          ongoing issue that is aware of the 

 8          limitations in being able to resolve it.  

 9          But on a number of the -- you run a popular 

10          system:  The railroads, the subways, 

11          more -- ridership is up in lots of parts of 

12          your business.

13                 On the New Haven Line, we have an 

14          overcrowding problem, a lot of standees on 

15          commuter trains, especially at rush hour.  

16          And what I'll ask for is a redoubled effort 

17          to try and find ways to do it.  There are 

18          limitations -- platform size, Connecticut's 

19          history of lack of investment in new 

20          cars -- so this is not a simple issue.  But 

21          it's something that I continue to get 

22          complaints from.  

23                 A number of us represent communities 

24          on the New Haven Line.  It is the busiest 

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 1          line in terms of ridership of the three 

 2          Metro-North lines.  So I ask for your help 

 3          on that, and renewed attention.

 4                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  You'll have it.  

 5          And as you know, that is also the line that 

 6          we're looking as well with opening up four 

 7          new stations in the Bronx, working with 

 8          Amtrak, who owns the lines, and all the 

 9          rest of that to be able to then proceed 

10          from there into Penn Station.  

11                 And when that first was envisioned, 

12          a lot of people thought why would -- you 

13          know, instead of going to Grand Central, 

14          why go to Penn Station?  Well, now with all 

15          of the work and all of the construction 

16          work and all of the offices and residential 

17          area things being built on the West Side 

18          Yards, it's going to be very, very 

19          important.  A lot of people are now working 

20          in those new buildings on the West Side 

21          Yard; Penn Station is more convenient.  

22          That will help with this issue as well.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Okay.  Well, 

24          appreciate continued feedback on that.  I 

                                                                  193

 1          have received some and understand the 

 2          complexity of it, but we have riders who 

 3          are standing rather than sitting for their 

 4          trip.  So thanks for your assistance.

 5                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  More 

 6          cars coming.

 7                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Yeah, more cars 

 8          have been --

 9                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  More 

10          cars are coming.

11                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  -- purchased 

12          and more cars are coming.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Thank you.

14                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Thank you.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

16                 Our next speaker is Senator Comrie.

17                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Thank you.  Thank 

18          you, Madam Chairs.  

19                 Chairman, again I just have the rest 

20          of my items to share with you today.

21                 I need your help with the Suffern 

22          Boulevard corridor, the Jamaica Station, 

23          Long Island Railroad.  Back when I was in 

24          the City Council, we invested over $100 

                                                                  194

 1          million in improvements in that area which 

 2          have not been accomplished yet due to the 

 3          fact that it has to go through seven 

 4          different agencies.  And I would hope that 

 5          under your leadership and guidance, we 

 6          could get that resolved.  

 7                 There are -- there was money put 

 8          into improve the access between the Long 

 9          Island Railroad station and the subway, 

10          improve the opportunities for commuters, 

11          when they take the buses, to not step in 

12          water, as they have to now.  There was an 

13          opportunity also in that $100 million which 

14          was allocated to improve the corridor, the 

15          physical roadways between the Van Wyck and 

16          Suffern Boulevard station, where the 

17          Jamaica Long Island Railroad station is as 

18          well.

19                 I would hope that we could sit down 

20          and take a look at that.  Because again, 

21          I've been out of the Council four years; we 

22          funded that, I think, back in 2008.  But 

23          because it has at least seven different 

24          layers of government, it hasn't been able 

                                                                  195

 1          to get started yet.  So I hope that we can 

 2          work on that together under the lead of the 

 3          MTA, to try to resolve that.

 4                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Yes, sir.

 5                 SENATOR COMRIE:  And to that end, 

 6          also in long-term projects, the Jamaica bus 

 7          depot, which is a project that should have 

 8          been completed 10 years ago, still hasn't 

 9          gotten started yet, due to a myriad of 

10          issues that seem to make no sense to me 

11          that they're stuck on.  And I hope that we 

12          could take a look at that as well so that 

13          we can unstick that, one of which is where 

14          the buses will be deadheading during that 

15          period of time.  I know that there's been 

16          some unusual delays coming from CUNY about 

17          that, and I hope that we can sit down and 

18          put them in a room and knock some sense 

19          into them so that we can get a piece of 

20          property that's available to use to 

21          deadhead the buses during that particular 

22          time.

23                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Thank you, sir.  

24          I look forward to that.

                                                                  196

 1                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Yes, thank you.

 2                 And then just the Parsons/Archer, 

 3          which is the end of the J and the E train, 

 4          is that the bathrooms and elevators there 

 5          are constantly under a state of poor 

 6          repair, and I hope that we can take a look 

 7          at that in your program and system as well.

 8                 And Access-A-Ride, which is an issue 

 9          that almost every Sunday, when I attend a 

10          church, I have a senior that's scared to 

11          take a ride from me because they're worried 

12          about losing their Access-A-Ride 

13          privileges.  When I see them standing or 

14          sitting outside their church, you know, 

15          hours after the service has ended and I try 

16          to take them home, and they're scared to 

17          take my ride because they're going to lose 

18          their Access-A-Ride privileges.

19                 Access-A-Ride, especially in Queens, 

20          is a problem, especially with people that 

21          are being told that they can't go to their 

22          medical appointments in Manhattan anymore.  

23          Access-A-Ride will only take them to the 

24          subway, but then they have go take the 

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 1          subway into Manhattan.  

 2                 So there are a lot of things that 

 3          are wrong with that system, and I hope that 

 4          we can sit down and have some discussions 

 5          about that.

 6                 Just to sum up on congestion 

 7          pricing, you know, I think congestion 

 8          pricing hurts Queens residents.  And I 

 9          didn't see anything in the Fix NY plan that 

10          dealt with any improvements in the outer 

11          boroughs, especially in Queens, with that.  

12          So I would ask you to take a hard look at 

13          that before we move forward.  I know there 

14          are a lot of discussions with that.  My 

15          concern with congestion pricing is it 

16          doesn't relieve the congestion.  You know, 

17          why are we going to do a program where 

18          we're just taking more money from people 

19          and still the essential business district 

20          will be crowded with the elements that -- 

21          it won't reduce the amount of truck traffic 

22          that has to go into the city, it won't fix 

23          the issues coming from Jersey and coming 

24          into the city.  It's only going to tax city 

                                                                  198

 1          residents for congestion pricing because 

 2          there's a -- I think I saw that there's an 

 3          exemption for people coming from Jersey.  

 4                 And so there's a lot of things wrong 

 5          with the plan.  I think that we need to 

 6          have a steady pricing opportunity, a steady 

 7          revenue opportunity for the MTA to do all 

 8          these necessary improvements.  And as I've 

 9          given you a long list of improvements that 

10          I need, I know we need to get the funding 

11          to do it.  But if we're going to fix 

12          congestion pricing -- look, if we're going 

13          to fix congestion in the city, we need to 

14          fix the congestion.  If we need to deal 

15          with how we pay for it, I think that's a 

16          separate issue.

17                 So I think that the plan that's put 

18          together right now doesn't fix either 

19          thing, and I think that we really need to 

20          look and talk about it without politics or 

21          without people trying to tax one set of 

22          people against the other.  Because Queens 

23          residents are already paying a payroll tax, 

24          a city share of the tax, and also out of 

                                                                  199

 1          their utility bills.  And now they're being 

 2          asked to tax a fourth time for congestion 

 3          that most of them actually would prefer to 

 4          take public transportation to get into the 

 5          city anyway.

 6                 But we have many residents in 

 7          Queens -- because we don't have the 

 8          hospitals, the specialty hospitals -- that 

 9          need to come into Manhattan on a regular 

10          basis.  We have many businesses that they 

11          are located in Queens because they can't 

12          afford rents in the city for a store there.  

13          And if there are businesses coming into the 

14          city, they're bringing in 10, 12 trucks a 

15          day.  So we really need to look at how to 

16          fix congestion and then how to look at how 

17          to price it separately.  

18                 And I'm sorry, I have a cold; I hope 

19          that you can hear everything we do, and I 

20          hope that you can get back to me with my 

21          nine items that I gave you and also my 

22          issue about congestion pricing.  Thank you.  

23                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Thank you.  

24          We'll get back to you.  Thank you.

                                                                  200

 1                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Thank you.  

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I thought it was 

 3          12.

 4                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Well, I didn't do 

 5          the other three.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  You pared it 

 7          down.  Thank you, Senator.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

 9          Byrne.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN BYRNE:  Thank you, 

11          Chairwoman -- and Chairman, for attending 

12          this public hearing and your patience in 

13          the marathon of questioning.  I will do my 

14          best to keep it to within the five minutes, 

15          if not less than. 

16                 I represent portions of the Hudson 

17          Valley, most of Putnam County and northern 

18          Westchester.  And like many of my Hudson 

19          Valley colleagues, although I don't 

20          represent a portion of New York City, many 

21          of my constituents are regular customers of 

22          the MTA and they travel on the Hudson and 

23          the Harlem Line.  And my question actually 

24          goes back to what the federal government 

                                                                  201

 1          helped require since 2008, and there's been 

 2          extensions, for positive train control.  

 3          Although it's not particularly in my 

 4          district, again, many of my constituents 

 5          use the Hudson Line.  And we had that 

 6          tragic incident in 2013 that claimed the 

 7          lives of four people.  So I'd like to know 

 8          what the status is on that.  

 9                 U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer visited 

10          my district and made a statement, alongside 

11          our newly elected sheriff, Rob Langley, and 

12          Deputy Supervisor Nancy Montgomery, who 

13          lost her husband in that fatal accident.  

14                 So what is the timeline?  Where is 

15          the MTA at now with positive train control, 

16          and are we on track to deliver this by 

17          December 31, 2018?

18                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  We are 

19          on track to deliver positive train control.  

20          We were actually down in Washington, both 

21          railroads, Long Island and Metro-North, 

22          last week, meeting with the FRA and the 

23          potential acting administrator of the FRA, 

24          sharing with them the status of that 

                                                                  202

 1          program.  

 2                 We're about 60 percent done.  We are 

 3          working very closely with the consortium 

 4          that is installing positive train control 

 5          on both railroads.  I met with the CEO this 

 6          week, actually, and he assured me that of 

 7          the projects he watches around the globe, 

 8          this is one of them.  And so that 

 9          executive-level push is continuing with a 

10          sense of urgency to get it done.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN BYRNE:  Okay.  Thank 

12          you.  I guess one of my other remaining 

13          concerns is I know Senator Schumer has 

14          mentioned that there is federal funding, or 

15          a loan that's $2 billion to support this, 

16          and that if it wasn't on time, there could 

17          be consequences.  I'm not sure what that 

18          means, but all the same I think we want to 

19          do everything humanly possible to make sure 

20          that this gets done on time and we don't 

21          need an additional extension.  

22                 Thank you again for your patience.

23                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Thank you.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator Krueger.

                                                                  203

 1                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

 2                 So following up on a number of 

 3          pieces of information you already gave me, 

 4          just to put it on the record, I just want 

 5          to make it clear to everyone that I believe 

 6          that nearly 70 percent of the MTA's annual 

 7          funding comes from dedicated New York City 

 8          residents' and businesses' taxes, fares, 

 9          tolls, et cetera.  The administration's 

10          subsidy from the City of New York is 

11          1.6 billion, and that 70 percent is north 

12          of $10 billion a year that the MTA gets.  

13          We can argue whether they need more, but I 

14          just want to say it out loud, it's not that 

15          the City of New York and the people of the 

16          City of New York aren't paying an enormous 

17          amount towards the MTA.

18                 And yet, based on what Ms. Hakim 

19          explained before, if the budget proposal 

20          required New York City Transit to cover 

21          100 percent of the funding for capital, 

22          that would be another $16.7 billion that 

23          would become the responsibility of the 

24          people of the City of New York.  

                                                                  204

 1                 And so I have a serious equity 

 2          question.  But I'm not asking for an answer 

 3          right now, I am using my time to make a 

 4          statement.

 5                 But now going back to our earlier 

 6          discussion, since we know -- and you have 

 7          said so before, Mr. Chair -- Chair, is that 

 8          your right title?  I just want to 

 9          double-check.  When I say Mr. Chair --

10                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Call me Joe.

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Sorry?

12                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  You can call me 

13          Joe.

14                 (Laughter.)

15                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Okay.  Joe 

16          Mr. Chair.  Chairman.  

17                 (Inaudible comment.)

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Well, chair is 

19          nice, gender-neutral.  He wants a woman 

20          mayor; it could be a woman chair.  Down the 

21          road, thank you.

22                 We're talking about you support 

23          strongly the emergency subway action plan, 

24          the Subway Action Plan.  I agree we're 

                                                                  205

 1          seeing many good things come out of that 

 2          proposal, and yet we don't have it fully 

 3          funded.  Why aren't we prioritizing that 

 4          and ADA accessibility, as my colleague has 

 5          already pointed out, in this period of 

 6          crisis, rather than going forward with the 

 7          proposal that was temporarily delayed 

 8          yesterday?  It seems to me you yourself 

 9          have said it's a time of crisis, we need to 

10          prioritize that which will have the 

11          greatest impact now.

12                 So again, I am urging you and the 

13          board to look at the question of aren't 

14          there greater priorities than were in that 

15          $1 billion package.

16                 Also, you answered before you didn't 

17          think there was federal money in the 

18          capital plan, but my notes show we have 

19          $500 million from the feds for Second 

20          Avenue subway.  Can we just double-check?  

21          Did we lose that money?

22                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I was talking 

23          about operating -- we do have money in the 

24          capital plan, absolutely.  The question was 

                                                                  206

 1          about the operating budget.

 2                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So you were 

 3          answering operating, not capital.

 4                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Correct.

 5                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  You suddenly 

 6          worried me that we lost that money and I 

 7          didn't learn --

 8                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  No, no, no.  

 9          No, no, no.

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So we do still 

11          have the 500 million for Second Avenue 

12          subway going north.  

13                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Absolutely.  

14                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Okay.  Because, 

15          you know, with the federal government, you 

16          miss a tweet and you discover you've lost 

17          everything.  So you got me nervous.

18                 All right, so my biggest problem, 

19          this value capture proposal.  Again, I 

20          represent the parts of Manhattan that I 

21          would just for the record argue have taken 

22          the greatest hits on problems when you 

23          expand a subway system.  We've lived with 

24          East Side Access explosions for 10 years, 

                                                                  207

 1          we lived through Second Avenue subway 

 2          construction for 10 years.  At least we got 

 3          three stops on Second Avenue subway.  East 

 4          Side Access, with all due respect, all we 

 5          will ever get out of it is more crowding 

 6          and density in an area of the city that can 

 7          barely handle what it has.

 8                 But we learned a lot.  And we 

 9          learned that you can have negotiated, 

10          responsible plans between a community and 

11          the MTA.  Again, people look at the Hudson 

12          Yard-Line 7 extension as an example.  I 

13          look at Midtown rezoning right around the 

14          Grand Central area.  We worked together -- 

15          community, city government, MTA.  We 

16          evaluated what would be the impacts if we 

17          did massive expansion of new, taller, 

18          bigger buildings in midtown Manhattan.  We 

19          recognized there were all kinds of pluses 

20          and minuses, impact on the community.  And 

21          a portion of the revenue to be generated in 

22          that plan from new activity and existing 

23          activity is being applied to the MTA.  

24          Others are being applied to DOT, others are 

                                                                  208

 1          being applied to making sure we have 

 2          adequate schools and fire response and 

 3          police response and some small hypothetical 

 4          new green space in an area desperate for 

 5          green space where you can barely find --

 6                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  On the roof.

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Very little, 

 8          right?  

 9                 So I would argue that there's a way 

10          to do negotiated looking at what a 

11          community and new funding from tax revenue 

12          might be able to do.  But to actually 

13          simply say the City of New York, the people 

14          of the City of New York will have no role 

15          in this and the MTA board will decide to 

16          take 75 percent of the increased property 

17          tax revenue and choose where to use it -- 

18          perhaps not even in the City of New York, 

19          forget in the community that's taking the 

20          hit -- is a -- I don't know, I was thinking 

21          of bringing my people to the river with 

22          tea, actually.  Since it's a one-mile 

23          radius in Manhattan, I can take it to both 

24          rivers, the East River and the Hudson 

                                                                  209

 1          River.  And I would even argue the one-mile 

 2          radius in certain parts of Manhattan, you 

 3          can be billing New Jersey's property tax as 

 4          well, because they're within the one-mile 

 5          radius.  

 6                 So I can't emphasize enough why I 

 7          think this is just such a terrible idea and 

 8          a terrible precedent, and I'm hoping you 

 9          might agree with me.

10                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So I do agree 

11          that there's ways to work together, and I'm 

12          attempting as best I can to work together 

13          with the city as a partner.  I do think 

14          that the way you've described congestion 

15          pricing as the MTA board taking money is 

16          not the case.

17                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I didn't say 

18          congestion pricing.

19                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  There is a role 

20          for the city in what has been proposed.  

21          The projects would need to be approved by 

22          the Capital Program Review Board, which 

23          includes the mayor, who has the ultimate 

24          right of veto of anything that goes before 

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 1          it.  We do not make the assessments.  The 

 2          assessments would be done by the New York 

 3          City Department of Finance.  It's how the 

 4          incremental revenues are shared between the 

 5          city and the MTA.  

 6                 So, you know, we need to be able to 

 7          sit, as you said, across the table from 

 8          each other and walk through what is written 

 9          in that proposed legislation.

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Just to clarify, 

11          your understanding of the language in the 

12          budget is none of that could happen if 

13          there was a mayoral veto on any proposed 

14          taking of money?  Or just for specific 

15          projects it was used for.

16                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So in a 

17          project, in a project that would go before 

18          the Capital Program Review Board, it would 

19          require sources of funding.  And it would 

20          require that these projects all go before 

21          the CPRB, yes.  

22                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I guess I might 

23          argue that if you're taking the city's 

24          money -- and plus if you assume that 

                                                                  211

 1          somehow you could hit New York City up for 

 2          the entire capital plan of NYCT, it should 

 3          be the City of New York that makes all 

 4          these decisions into the future, not the 

 5          MTA, since it would be the City of New York 

 6          paying for everything.  

 7                 But that could be for a continued 

 8          day, since I'm also at zero.  And now I can 

 9          win the bet that it was more than three 

10          hours, because I'm controlling the end of 

11          the clock.  

12                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Yes, you won, 

13          Senator.  You won.  Amazing.

14                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And on a high 

15          note, please don't let go of your proposals 

16          to improve Access-A-Ride, paratransit.  We 

17          had a town hall meeting with the 

18          participation of MTA and the advocates and 

19          the riders in my district recently, and 

20          people were extremely encouraged and 

21          excited about the proposals.  And I'm sure 

22          my colleague from Queens wants to learn 

23          about that also.  

24                 But if you are successful in moving 

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 1          forward with that, I think we will all be 

 2          able to say we did very well on behalf of 

 3          disabled riders in the MTA system.

 4                 Thank you.

 5                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Thank you, 

 6          Senator.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 8                 Now we are up to a second round for 

 9          Assemblymembers.  And I would just ask the 

10          members, mindful of when the hearing 

11          started and future witnesses that have been 

12          very patient, that you don't have to take 

13          your full five minutes.  

14                 Assemblywoman Paulin.

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Thank you.  

16                 I have six questions, and I promise 

17          to ask them quickly.  Maybe -- and I'll 

18          hope you give me quick answers.  

19                 So the first question has to do with 

20          the Fix NYC report.  The first phase of 

21          this year, it says that it would include 

22          improvements for the outer boroughs and the 

23          suburbs, but there's no specificity.  And I 

24          don't know what you've budgeted for.  It 

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 1          also, in that first phase, links the 

 2          procurement modifications and the tax 

 3          increment funding in that same first phase.  

 4          And I didn't know whether there was any 

 5          money tie-in to making those outer borough 

 6          and suburban improvements.

 7                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So this report 

 8          was issued a week ago.  I was not part of 

 9          writing the report.  I had an opportunity 

10          to read it just as you have.  I saw in 

11          Phase 1 the reference to suburbs and all of 

12          that, and that it should be considered.  As 

13          I said earlier, I think the Fix NYC report 

14          has provided an opportunity to begin the 

15          debate on congestion pricing, and they laid 

16          out the three different phases and, with 

17          each one of the phases, various different 

18          steps.  

19                 You know, I'll work with anyone on 

20          that because of the -- you know, we have a 

21          responsibility in Phase 1 of fixing the 

22          subway system.  So out of a sense of 

23          fairness and time, the answer is I'll work 

24          with you.

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 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Okay, sounds 

 2          good.

 3                 The second one has to do with the 

 4          ridesharing issue.  Have you seen the 

 5          same -- we know that the ridesharing has 

 6          increased congestion in Manhattan.  Have 

 7          you seen the same increase in the outer 

 8          boroughs as well because of the ridesharing 

 9          initiative that's been going on in the city 

10          actually for some time?

11                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  When you say 

12          ridesharing, are you talking about --

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Like the Uber 

14          and --

15                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  The Ubers and 

16          Lyfts.

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Yeah.  Yeah.

18                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  My 

19          experience -- yes, I have seen data that 

20          shows that Uber, Lyft, Via, all of these 

21          other for-hire vehicles, app-based for-hire 

22          vehicles, is expanding tremendously 

23          throughout now the State of New York, since 

24          they've been given permission.

                                                                  215

 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  So would it 

 2          make any sense -- you know, we're going to 

 3          hear from advocates later they want to see 

 4          some of those surcharges applied to transit 

 5          outside of the city.  Would it make any 

 6          sense within the city to have some 

 7          surcharges on those same vehicles to be 

 8          able to alleviate the congestion in 

 9          Brooklyn and Queens so we can improve bus 

10          service?

11                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  As I read the 

12          report, it was the recommendation of the 

13          report that it happen.  They wanted it in 

14          Phase 2, but in Phase 1 allow the for-hire 

15          vehicles to have the equipment to be able 

16          to properly provide those -- whatever the 

17          surcharges become, that they can do it.  

18          And they broke it down, you know, if the 

19          trip begins in the central business and 

20          ends in it, it's one phase.  If it starts 

21          outside and goes in, if it's only within 

22          the outer boroughs and, you know, all of 

23          that.  And then what do you do with the 

24          fares where they pick up people and --

                                                                  216

 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  So there 

 2          would be additional fare proposed, you 

 3          think, if it was solely within Brooklyn or 

 4          solely within Queens.

 5                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Well, that's 

 6          what's in the proposal, yes.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Okay.  I 

 8          wasn't sure.

 9                 The third question.  There's been a 

10          lot reported lately about the comparable 

11          improvements in other cities in the world 

12          and how less expensive they are compared to 

13          the MTA capital improvements.  And I just 

14          wondered what you think might be due to 

15          some of those problems that we have here 

16          that they seem to have overcome in England 

17          and Paris and Stockholm and wherever else 

18          they cited.

19                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Right.  So I 

20          mentioned earlier we put together a task 

21          force regarding how we go out and actually 

22          contract with the folks who build new 

23          systems and build the tunnels and all of 

24          that.  This workforce is being headed up by 

                                                                  217

 1          one of the board members, Scott Rechler, 

 2          who's in the real estate industry, combined 

 3          with Janno Lieber, who's our new chief 

 4          development officer, has tremendous 

 5          experience in the private sector bringing 

 6          in projects under budget.  

 7                 We have to do this because to have 

 8          the Fix -- if any and all parts of the 

 9          Fix NYC are implemented, we've got to make 

10          sure that we spend the dollars as 

11          efficiently and as effectively as possible.

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Thank you.  

13          And, you know, in terms of the rollout with 

14          the zone pricing scheme, has the Governor's 

15          office had any conversations about your 

16          role?  Like are you going to be involved in 

17          actually building it, you know, or we don't 

18          know?

19                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I have not had 

20          any conversations other than talking to 

21          some of the folks about "how do you read 

22          this" type question.

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  And there was 

24          some criticism in the Comptroller's report 

                                                                  218

 1          regarding the On the Go tags.  And I noted 

 2          that some of those were eliminated in some 

 3          sites, you know, even when the 

 4          Comptroller's report was issued.  You know, 

 5          what's the status of that?  Because I know 

 6          that it's a big revenue loss.

 7                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I'm sorry, I --

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  The On the Go 

 9          tags, the ones you could buy in the news 

10          immediately.  You know, on the cashless 

11          tolling.  It was in the Comptroller's 

12          report that -- the Triborough Bridge.  And 

13          it was in the November 2017 issue.

14                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  We've 

15          had actually an increasing number of 

16          accounts opened for the E-Z -- the true 

17          E-ZPass system.  That's been a remarkable 

18          success of moving people, I think, even 

19          from the On the Go buyer, the retail buyer, 

20          to the E-ZPass system.  We're now at a 

21          penetration rate in E-ZPass of a little 

22          over 94 percent, which is -- 

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  So do you 

24          think you're going to let go of that 

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 1          system?  Because it seems to be a loser.

 2                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  I 

 3          think that we will continue to maintain a 

 4          bit of the On the Go system, but really our 

 5          preference would be to move as many people 

 6          as possible to the facility and the ease of 

 7          E-ZPass.

 8                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  On the Go was 

 9          only sold at toll booths.  We no longer 

10          have toll booths.  So --

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  So you're 

12          eliminating it by virtue of the fact that 

13          you don't have the people to sell it.

14                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Right.

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  And one last 

16          question.  The status of the positive train 

17          control and computer-based train control 

18          programs, and just a side question related 

19          to the computer-based train control.  My 

20          understanding is that until we have that, 

21          that the actual countdown clocks can't work 

22          effectively because they're tied to the 

23          ability to do new switches and so forth.  

24          So I'm a little confused about the rollout 

                                                                  220

 1          of the countdown clocks throughout the city 

 2          prior to having the switches which would 

 3          allow those to operate properly.  

 4                 So the status of those both -- I 

 5          know they're very different programs -- and 

 6          also the relationship to the countdown 

 7          clock.

 8                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  So 

 9          initially the countdown clock program as it 

10          was rolled out on the numbered lines first 

11          was related to an improvement in the 

12          technology of the signal system on the 

13          numbered lines.  When we went to do the 

14          lettered lines, we realized it would take 

15          too long if we couldn't come up with an 

16          alternative technology.  So that's what we 

17          did.  

18                 And so we've spent the last year 

19          installing a new technology in the lettered 

20          lines so that by the end of last year, 

21          2017, we were able to declare victory that 

22          we have countdown clocks at all of our 

23          numbered and lettered line stations.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  And the 

                                                                  221

 1          status of moving forward with I guess the 

 2          whole rollout of the computer-based train 

 3          control program altogether, and then the 

 4          positive -- which is dealing with safety in 

 5          my community, for example.

 6                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  So the 

 7          positive train control is based on the 

 8          commuter rail network of Long Island and 

 9          Metro-North.  That, as I mentioned, is 

10          advancing with a sense of urgency to meet 

11          the end of the year deadline.  

12                 In terms of the signal improvements 

13          on the subway system -- that's the 

14          communications-based train control that 

15          you've been discussing -- we have three 

16          projects in this capital program for the 

17          Queens Boulevard line.  We're almost done 

18          right now with the Flushing line, the No. 

19          7; the Culver line in Brooklyn; and the 

20          Eighth Avenue line in Manhattan.

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Any time 

22          frame that you can imagine being done with 

23          the whole project?  

24                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  The 

                                                                  222

 1          projects that I'm just referring to now 

 2          will be done over the next four years or 

 3          so.

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  But I guess 

 5          long term, you know, what you envision for 

 6          the rest of the lines.  

 7                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  So as 

 8          the chairman noted, we are waiting for the 

 9          results of what has been termed the Genius 

10          Competition in order to see what new 

11          technologies or better ways of doing this 

12          work faster would be available to us.

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Thank you so 

14          much.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator Rivera.

16                 SENATOR RIVERA:  I'm ba-ack.  Third 

17          round, all right.  So I'll try to be as 

18          quick as possible.  

19                 We talked about the fact that this 

20          proposal would be a radical rejiggering, if 

21          you will, of where the money comes from 

22          that goes to the MTA.  Right?  We agree on 

23          that.  

24                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I don't agree 

                                                                  223

 1          with the word "radical," but --

 2                 SENATOR RIVERA:  Okay.  What would 

 3          you use to describe it?  

 4                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  A proposal.

 5                 SENATOR RIVERA:  Okay.  That's not 

 6          an adjective, though.  In any event --

 7                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  A good 

 8          proposal, then.

 9                 SENATOR RIVERA:  So it's a big 

10          change.  It's a big change.  So -- and at 

11          the same time you also recognize that it 

12          is -- the percentages -- I've heard 

13          different ones, but we're talking about 

14          roughly basically all the costs, like a 

15          hundred percent of it would be switched to 

16          the city; correct?

17                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  That's not how 

18          I read the proposal.

19                 SENATOR RIVERA:  Okay, so what would 

20          be the percentage?  Would it be 80 percent, 

21          would it be 90 percent?  

22                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  It's something 

23          more than it's been paid now.  But that 

24          hasn't been worked out.  

                                                                  224

 1                 SENATOR RIVERA:  But dude, that's a 

 2          dollar.  If you say that there's something 

 3          more than if they pay $5 or they pay $6 --

 4                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Yeah, but 

 5          you're asking me to read between lines, and 

 6          I can't.  I only can read the lines.

 7                 SENATOR RIVERA:  All right.  So this 

 8          is the one that I'm asking you to read, 

 9          though.  This is not between the lines.  If 

10          you know that there's -- let's say that the 

11          system spends $100 million.  I'm just 

12          putting numbers out there; obviously, it's 

13          more than that.  And you're saying that 

14          currently the city picks up $30 million of 

15          that.  Then you're saying now that the city 

16          will pick up $70 million, $80 million?  I'm 

17          just looking for percentages as far as what 

18          has been historically there and what will 

19          be there now.  

20                 And this is the point.  I want to 

21          know two things.  First, as Senator Krueger 

22          said, if the majority of the money now, if 

23          not all of it, is now going to be picked up 

24          by the city, according to this proposal, 

                                                                  225

 1          shouldn't the city then have the ability -- 

 2          thank you -- shouldn't the city now have 

 3          the ability to determine what happens 

 4          there, as opposed to the way that the 

 5          current structure of the MTA works, which 

 6          is most of the appointees are from 

 7          government?  That's number one.  

 8                 Number two -- because I want to get 

 9          all of these questions out -- number two, 

10          if the percentage is now 20 and it's going 

11          to believe 70 or 80 or whatever, shouldn't 

12          it correspond to the percentage of what the 

13          system actually uses?  If the system is 12 

14          counties, as opposed -- I mean, obviously 

15          the city uses most of it, but it is a 

16          region.  So shouldn't the percentage then 

17          be broken down differently by regions if 

18          you're going to ask regions to pick up more 

19          of it?

20                 And lastly, if there's -- obviously, 

21          and Assemblymember Paulin spoke about this 

22          hours ago at this point -- there's 

23          obviously an issue of trust.  The 

24          constituents that I have, 90 percent of the 

                                                                  226

 1          folks in my district get on a bus or a 

 2          train every single day.  And they're the 

 3          ones that we have to hear from constantly.  

 4          And all these folks talked about the LIRR, 

 5          et cetera.  So there is a problem of trust.  

 6                 Then you're saying that part of what 

 7          you're doing is also taking that -- you're 

 8          taking the payroll tax off-budget, so 

 9          you're now going to have it directly be 

10          appropriated to the MTA.  So if we have -- 

11          so all these things together, if there's a 

12          problem of trust, then how are we going to 

13          trust that money that now doesn't come 

14          through us, so we have no way to actually 

15          oversee it, or we have no oversight over 

16          it, then, you know, how can we trust the 

17          MTA is going to do the right thing with it?  

18                 So I just wanted to get all that out 

19          there and then let you respond..

20                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So underlying 

21          what Senator Krueger said and what you also 

22          said are the numbers that were put out by 

23          the Comptroller, where the Comptroller 

24          allocated dollars from the state and gave 

                                                                  227

 1          it to the city.  

 2                 I disagreed vehemently when the 

 3          Comptroller came out with that report.  I 

 4          disagree with him vehemently now.  To give 

 5          credit to saying the city gave this money 

 6          when it's money that comes from the State 

 7          Legislature and saying that it's coming 

 8          from the city -- I mean, I don't think 

 9          that's an accurate way to look at it.  

10                 So that underlying the premise of 

11          the theory of what you're saying, if the 

12          city gives X -- the city is not giving X.  

13          You, members of the Assembly and the 

14          Senate, are giving X.

15                 SENATOR RIVERA:  Okay, so what is 

16          the city, according to this new proposal --

17                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I don't have 

18          the numbers in front of me.  I'll go back 

19          to the numbers as I calculated them.  But 

20          what you're talking about is equity --

21                 SENATOR RIVERA:  Yes, but it says 

22          here --

23                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  -- more than 

24          anything else.

                                                                  228

 1                 SENATOR RIVERA:  I'm sorry.  I'm 

 2          sorry.  Because my time is running out.  

 3          But I've actually got the proposal here.  

 4          At page 86, line 22, it says "the City of 

 5          New York shall provide in full all funding 

 6          required to meet the capital needs of the 

 7          New York City Transit Authority in such 

 8          plan."

 9                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Consistent with 

10          the 1953 and 1981 laws.

11                 SENATOR RIVERA:  Which is 

12          questionable.  I have read different memos 

13          that say different things.  Obviously you 

14          believe otherwise.  

15                 But if this is the case, then you're 

16          saying, first of all, that they should have 

17          the full weight of it.  It is -- if the 

18          system is more than the City of New York -- 

19          and it is.  Obviously most of it, the bulk 

20          of it is the City of New York, but it's not 

21          just the City of New York.  So obviously 

22          maybe if you're going to break down the 

23          percentages, then maybe there should be 

24          other counties or other parts of the state.  

                                                                  229

 1                 Also, the -- there's -- I should 

 2          have had a round 4, but I'm not going to.  

 3          Let's just say I have deep, deep concerns 

 4          about this proposal.  I don't think that 

 5          this is a good negotiating tactic to start 

 6          with basically what is a punitive thing, 

 7          saying to the city, Now {sound}, you're 

 8          going to have to pick up the whole thing, 

 9          and now we're going to have to negotiate.  

10          As opposed to maybe talking to them and 

11          saying, You've got to pick up more of it, 

12          let's figure out what exactly that is and 

13          then get it done.  

14                 So I just have deep concerns about 

15          this and I can't be supportive of the 

16          proposal as it currently is.  

17                 Thank you, Madam Chair.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

20          Rozic.

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROZIC:  Okay, I'm 

22          going to make it quick since I know many of 

23          my colleagues still have questions.  

24                 I'd like to reiterate my concern 

                                                                  230

 1          over Access-A-Ride and would like to follow 

 2          up on that.  

 3                 Going back to the electric bus pilot 

 4          that you had mentioned earlier in my round 

 5          1, can you talk to the specific criteria 

 6          for success that the MTA is using or 

 7          looking at for electric buses?  And what's 

 8          the timeline they're using for determining 

 9          the success of electric buses?

10                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So while I'm 

11          looking it up, I will tell you that the 

12          electric buses that we have now, the 

13          timeline is -- you know, the next step is 

14          if we think it's successful later this 

15          year, in 2018, to acquire another 60.  So 

16          it's an ongoing process.

17                 The -- if you give me a second to 

18          give you the criteria that we're looking at 

19          on electric buses -- bear with me.  It's 

20          about -- well, first off, we have to look 

21          at the battery life and the charging and 

22          the length and strength period of time.

23                 Do you have --

24                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  Yeah, 

                                                                  231

 1          I was just going to quickly say it's the 

 2          charging life, it's the maintainability of 

 3          the bus and its ability to survive the very 

 4          challenging network of New York City roads 

 5          and hills and valleys that we travel 

 6          through.  And the weather.  I apologize, 

 7          the weather. 

 8                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  A bus is not 

 9          just a bus.  A New York City bus is 

10          somewhat closer to a tank, in that it needs 

11          to withstand the streets of the City of 

12          New York.  And they drive longer, they're 

13          in service a lot longer than most other 

14          places.  And they -- you know, a lot more 

15          stop and go.

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROZIC:  And will you 

17          be -- similar to what you did on Staten 

18          Island, will you be doing a revamp of all 

19          of the bus routes in -- let's say in my 

20          parts of Queens or the outer boroughs?

21                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  What happened 

22          in Staten Island with the long-distance 

23          buses, on the rerouting, what I spoke about 

24          earlier I believe with Assemblymember Simon 

                                                                  232

 1          and also with Assemblymember Ortiz, is 

 2          looking at different communities within 

 3          Brooklyn.  And we're committed in Queens as 

 4          well.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROZIC:  Many of us in 

 6          the Assembly and the Senate have called for 

 7          the MTA to switch buses to use all-door 

 8          boarding, where people can use any door 

 9          along the bus.  And I know that the MTA is 

10          moving to a new fare payment system where 

11          you can just use tap cards instead of 

12          swiping the MetroCard --

13                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Can you just 

14          pull the microphone closer or --

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROZIC:  Sure.  

16                 So is the plan that the MTA has in 

17          mind -- would you take advantage of this 

18          opportunity and this switch to create this 

19          new fare payment system, help buses move 

20          faster, but then also use this as an 

21          opportunity to move towards all-door 

22          boarding on buses --

23                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Absolutely.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROZIC:  -- throughout 

                                                                  233

 1          the system?

 2                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  One of the 

 3          benefits of the new system, the new payment 

 4          system, will be that ability.  We'll do it 

 5          first as a pilot, then we'll roll it all 

 6          the way out.  But yes, that's ultimately -- 

 7          it's a part of -- it is a goal.  

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROZIC:  Okay.  And do 

 9          you know where that pilot would be 

10          targeting?  

11                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  We're in the 

12          very beginning stages of the new fare 

13          payment system.  We've just entered into a 

14          contract to create it.  So we're at that 

15          point right now.  We've not gotten to the 

16          point to say what line are we going to use 

17          to do this.  We do it now, all-fare 

18          boarding, on the SBS buses throughout the 

19          City of New York.  We'll get closer -- 

20          we'll -- if you have a line that you think 

21          should have it --

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROZIC:  I have some 

23          suggestions.

24                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I'm sure I -- 

                                                                  234

 1          we will take your suggestions. 

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROZIC:  Thank you, 

 3          Madam Chair.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 5                 Assemblyman Carroll.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  Thank you, 

 7          Madam Chair.  

 8                 I just have a couple of quick 

 9          questions.  Do any of you believe that if 

10          we moved to a 10- or a 15-year capital plan 

11          that the MTA would be able to more 

12          efficiently manage its capital costs and 

13          its general capital program and get more 

14          things done over that period of time?  Or 

15          do you think it would have no net effect?

16                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  It's possible.  

17          We -- I actually think 10 years is about -- 

18          15 might be too long, but 10 years might be 

19          a better way to look at it, because many of 

20          the projects that start will be done in 

21          that period of time.  And you could also 

22          take a 10-year capital program and layer it 

23          over that period of time.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  Another 

                                                                  235

 1          question I have, lots of other members have 

 2          mentioned that the MTA's capital costs are 

 3          five and six times higher than other 

 4          comparable cities around the world.  The 

 5          MTA's operating costs are also about 

 6          50 percent higher than most other systems.  

 7          Has the MTA looked at, especially in light 

 8          of the new Fix NYC plan and modernizing the 

 9          system, how we would go about reducing our 

10          operating costs and possibly retraining MTA 

11          employees as certain jobs become obsolete 

12          and other jobs come more into favor?  

13                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Yes.  I'd like 

14          to at some point, Mr. Carroll, to get that 

15          data about that we are 50 percent more on 

16          operating.  I'd like to see that.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  I can show it 

18          to you, yeah. 

19                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I'd love to see 

20          that, because the data that I see from the 

21          federal government -- that looks through 

22          all of the transit agencies -- doesn't 

23          portray it that way.  So I'd like to see 

24          where that data comes from.

                                                                  236

 1                 But that said, we are all at this 

 2          table always looking for ways to be more 

 3          efficient.  And when it comes to deploying 

 4          or redeploying workers, yes, we are in the 

 5          process of doing that.

 6                 Obviously one example would be, you 

 7          know, in connection with cashless tolling.  

 8          What are we doing with those folks who used 

 9          to take the tolls, what are we doing with 

10          the TBTA police that were involved in a 

11          good portion of that?  They are being 

12          redeployed within the system.

13                 And we're always looking at ways to 

14          do that, to make sure that, you know, 

15          people have new opportunities, new ways to 

16          grow, and for us to save money.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  And finally, I 

18          know that you had no part in the Fix NYC 

19          plan so you can't speak to its specifics.  

20          But in my earlier question we were talking 

21          about -- you had mentioned the need to 

22          actually physically buy more train cars if 

23          we increase capacity via updated signaling.  

24                 Both in Stockholm and in London, 

                                                                  237

 1          before they implemented their full 

 2          congestion plans, they increased bus lines 

 3          that ran parallel to major train lines.  Do 

 4          we currently -- if we were to stick to the 

 5          two-year phase-in plan, do we currently 

 6          have enough buses to add additional lines 

 7          or additional SBS lines so that we could 

 8          increase capacity before we were able to 

 9          fully implement new signaling systems that 

10          I've been told could increase capacity on 

11          train lines by as much as 40 or 50 percent?  

12                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  So we 

13          are already on the road to buying more 

14          buses.  And both in terms of the pilot that 

15          the chair referred to, with electric buses, 

16          we also are buying hybrid electric buses as 

17          well as additional CNG buses, in order to 

18          have all the opportunity for flexibility 

19          along our routes.  

20                 We think that if we work with the 

21          City of New York, traffic signal 

22          prioritization with City DOT, NYPD bus lane 

23          enforcement, move the buses more 

24          efficiently across our city streets, we 

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 1          will in fact create this good alternative.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  Thank you.

 3                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Thank you.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

 5          Malliotakis.

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  I wasn't 

 7          going to be taking a second round, but 

 8          since you're here.  And I'll be brief.

 9                 The Access-A-Ride.  You know, a 

10          couple of years ago I had put forward some 

11          recommendations to improve Access-A-Ride.  

12          And some I do believe have been 

13          implemented, and others could potentially, 

14          I think, streamline the process.  

15                 One would be moving paratransit to 

16          car service.  I think that is something 

17          that is more efficient, it costs less, it 

18          gets the passenger to and from faster.  

19                 The second thing is the 

20          recertification process.  I can't tell you 

21          how many times my office has had to help 

22          someone with the appeals process because 

23          they've had Access-A-Ride and then they 

24          lost it.  And we're talking about senior 

                                                                  239

 1          citizens who are well in their 80s.  Their 

 2          condition is not going to get better.  In 

 3          some cases I think that we need to look at 

 4          this and say, hey, if somebody is, let's 

 5          say, over the age of 80, we're not going to 

 6          make them go through the hoops every five 

 7          years for the recertification.  

 8                 And the third thing is using 

 9          technology.  I did have a meeting not too 

10          long ago with the newest president of 

11          Access-A-Ride, and we were discussing 

12          utilizing like the Uber-type technology so 

13          passengers can see where their vehicles 

14          are.  Because one of the biggest things is 

15          they're waiting for a very long time, and 

16          in some cases they don't know where their 

17          vehicle is, and this would actually help 

18          that.  So I want to know where you are with 

19          implementing that.

20                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  The app is 

21          being developed right now, which as you 

22          just described it, would allow a disabled 

23          person to use the app to be able to get a 

24          vehicle, be able to see where that vehicle 

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 1          is.  It would be just as robust as any of 

 2          the apps that are out there now for Uber, 

 3          Lyft, Via, folks like that.

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Okay.  

 5          And a comment on recertification or moving 

 6          more --

 7                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  I'll look into 

 8          the recertification as far -- you know, 

 9          there are these federal rules, I have to 

10          look at that in combination with federal 

11          rules.  I don't mean that by any way to say 

12          that it's going to govern, we can probably 

13          go beyond that, but I'd like to just look 

14          at it.  But I will look at it, period.  

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  All 

16          right, that's great.  And moving from 

17          paratransit to car service?

18                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  That's already 

19          starting.  We are doing that right now.

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Okay.  

21          Do you have any -- if you can give my 

22          office some stats on that --

23                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Sure.

24                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  Sure.

                                                                  241

 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  -- on 

 2          how much progress you've made, particularly 

 3          Staten Island and Bay Ridge.

 4                 The comprehensive bus study for 

 5          Staten Island, I know it's set to, I 

 6          guess -- 2018 is the year, right?

 7                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  Yup.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  So I 

 9          want to know, are we still on track?  When 

10          can we anticipate the new routes?  

11                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  I 

12          think the -- some of this is being 

13          coordinated with the pick for the new 

14          routes.  I think that is already going on.  

15          So that we will be in a position in -- 

16          mid-'18 is the time period for the new 

17          express bus routes.  

18                 We're still hearing back from 

19          community outreach sessions that have been 

20          ongoing, so we'll look to see if we have to 

21          make some tweaks.

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  As a 

23          matter of fact, you will be receiving any 

24          day now a letter from Senator Diane Savino 

                                                                  242

 1          and I requesting the X18 to be -- it was 

 2          cut back in 2010, so we want to see it be 

 3          restored, at least in a limited capacity.  

 4          And hopefully you'll be able to include 

 5          that in the study.

 6                 And the last thing is the Brooklyn 

 7          Battery Tunnel.  There have been issues 

 8          with this for a long time now.  You've gone 

 9          from three tunnels to one tunnel.  On the 

10          PM, particularly in the evening, it's very 

11          problematic.  Maintenance issues I assume 

12          is the cause of that.  How long are we 

13          anticipating?  

14                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  So if I could 

15          go back to the bus questions that you asked 

16          about, I've had conversations with Borough 

17          President Oddo and asking him to sometime 

18          maybe convene all of the elected officials 

19          on Staten Island to go through the 

20          proposals, so we're getting closer and 

21          closer to that.

22                 The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel is being 

23          shut down for repair work that's directly 

24          related to the fact that it was filled with 

                                                                  243

 1          90 million gallons of water from Sandy, and 

 2          that's the work that's going on, and the 

 3          renovations, as you'll know.  

 4                 The timing of that being done -- you 

 5          know, it's being done on the weekends, so 

 6          it's taking a lot longer.  So it's this 

 7          year.  It should be finished this year.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  It's 

 9          done on the weekends.  But in the evenings 

10          you only have one --

11                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  At night.  At 

12          night, too, from -- I'm sorry.  Weekends --   

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  When is 

14          the completion date?  

15                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  Later 

16          this year.

17                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Later this 

18          year.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Got it.  

20          Thank you.  

21                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

22                 So the good news is I'm the last one 

23          who's going to be speaking as part of this 

24          panel, and I actually want to start with a 

                                                                  244

 1          compliment.  

 2                 The MetroCard mobile van service 

 3          comes to my office once a month.  In fact, 

 4          I had many moons ago suggested that we do 

 5          something like that, and it's been very 

 6          helpful and it's very well attended, 

 7          particularly with people who have English 

 8          as their second language.  We have a lot of 

 9          Russian-Americans, Chinese-speaking, 

10          Creole-speaking.  People on my staff who 

11          speak those languages are able to assist.  

12          And in fact just -- I know it's hard to 

13          believe, but they actually helped me get a 

14          senior citizen card just this past year.

15                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  

16          Congratulations.

17                 (Laughter.)

18                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  That being 

19          said, and to follow up what some of the 

20          other members said about access, we have a 

21          district that has a lot of elderly people, 

22          mobility issues.  I do not have a subway 

23          stop located physically within my Assembly 

24          district.  

                                                                  245

 1                 Along with some transit advocates, I 

 2          did an experiment in the fall where we 

 3          tried to get from Place A to Place B using 

 4          only accessible stations.  From my office I 

 5          had to take the B44 to Kings Highway, then 

 6          the B82 to the Kew Station to have an 

 7          accessible station.  In fact, I had to pay 

 8          a second fare because now it was three 

 9          modes of transportation -- a bus, a bus, 

10          and a train.  It's a lot to ask of people 

11          who have -- it was a lot to ask of me, and 

12          time-consuming, but a lot certainly to ask 

13          of people who have mobility issues.  

14                 We constantly have individuals who 

15          have been approved by Access-A-Ride, even 

16          go for -- are able to -- obviously, as 

17          Assemblywoman Malliotakis said, are getting 

18          older, they are getting sicker, they have 

19          Access-A-Ride, they're actually able to go 

20          for a physical, and then they are told they 

21          no longer qualify, which to me seems kind 

22          of absurd.

23                 So I would hope that there would be 

24          some effort to move, as Assemblywoman Simon 

                                                                  246

 1          said, to move towards accessibility, but 

 2          also to make sure that the stops that are 

 3          accessible are in working order.  

 4                 When we took a train from Bowling 

 5          Green to 42nd Street, the app had said the 

 6          42nd Street elevator was working.  We took 

 7          the -- I guess the 4.  When we got off at 

 8          42nd Street and went to the elevator, there 

 9          was a sign it was going to be out for three 

10          days.  It was a long time to wait for the 

11          elevator.  The individuals in wheelchairs 

12          had to go up to 125th Street just to be 

13          able to get access -- to be able to go back 

14          downtown to be able to get out of the 

15          subway at 42nd Street.

16                 So I would just, on behalf of a lot 

17          of elderly New Yorkers, urge that we move 

18          forward in that regard.

19                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Agreed.  Thank 

20          you.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  And that 

22          being said, thank you so much for your time 

23          here.  

24                 And next coming up is going to be 

                                                                  247

 1          the New York State Department of 

 2          Transportation.

 3                 (Discussion off the record.)

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  And there may 

 5          actually be some follow-up.  You know, a 

 6          few times members ask questions.  When you 

 7          follow up to those questions, they will be 

 8          made part of the official record and 

 9          distributed to all of the members.

10                 Thank you all.

11                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Thank you.

12                 MTA MANAGING DIRECTOR HAKIM:  Thank 

13          you.

14                 MTA CHAIRMAN LHOTA:  Thank you, 

15          Madam Chairs.  Thank you both.

16                 (Discussion off the record.)

17                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So we're 

18          ready for the Department of Transportation, 

19          Paul Karas, commissioner.  Feel free to 

20          begin.

21                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Thank 

22          you.  Good afternoon.  Chairperson Young, 

23          Chairperson Weinstein, Chairperson Robach, 

24          Chairperson Gantt, and members of the 

                                                                  248

 1          Finance, Ways and Means, and Transportation 

 2          Committees, thank you for this opportunity 

 3          to discuss Governor Cuomo's Executive 

 4          Budget as it pertains to the Department of 

 5          Transportation for the 2018-2019 fiscal 

 6          year.  

 7                 I am honored that Governor Cuomo has 

 8          appointed me to serve as the 13th 

 9          commissioner of transportation.  Please be 

10          assured that I am no stranger to this 

11          field.  Over the past 40 years, I've had 

12          extensive public and private experience in 

13          infrastructure funding, development, and 

14          operations.  This experience has positioned 

15          me well to lead the talented and dedicated 

16          individuals of the New York State 

17          Department of Transportation.  

18                 I'm joined today by Ron Epstein, the 

19          department's executive deputy commissioner.

20                 If you would indulge me, I would 

21          like to take a moment to acknowledge the 

22          extraordinary professionalism and work 

23          ethic of the women and men of the 

24          Department of Transportation.  During my 

                                                                  249

 1          brief tenure with the department, the state 

 2          has experienced a terrorist attack against 

 3          one of our transportation facilities, 

 4          intense lake effect snow, significant and 

 5          sustained ice jams in our rivers and 

 6          creeks, and even a bomb cyclone.  Each and 

 7          every time, Department of Transportation 

 8          employees have responded admirably and have 

 9          had a positive impact on the lives of our 

10          state residents.  I would like to 

11          personally thank them for all that they do, 

12          day in and day out, to keep the public safe 

13          and our economy growing.

14                 Earlier this month Governor Cuomo 

15          unveiled the state fiscal year 2018-2019 

16          executive budget.  The budget proposal 

17          continues to deliver on the promise of 

18          progressive government by protecting 

19          taxpayers against devastating federal 

20          action, strengthening the middle class, 

21          cutting taxes, and making smart investments 

22          in New York's future.

23                 Central to these principles is 

24          creating economic opportunity through 

                                                                  250

 1          investments in infrastructure.  In fact, 

 2          New York State continues to invest more 

 3          today in infrastructure than at any period 

 4          in our state's history.  Governor Cuomo has 

 5          committed more than $29 billion in capital 

 6          support for road and bridges, bicycle and 

 7          pedestrian enhancements, and public 

 8          transportation, airports, and passenger and 

 9          freight rail programs.

10                 But the story does not end there.  

11          Governor Cuomo's Executive Budget for the 

12          department honors the commitments made 

13          through the state transportation plan by 

14          providing $4.3 billion in new capital 

15          funding.  Of that amount, nearly 

16          $3.1 billion in new program funding is 

17          provided for state and local roadway and 

18          bridge construction.  The budget also 

19          provides $5.4 billion in operating 

20          assistance for public transportation 

21          systems statewide, including $525 million 

22          for upstate and downstate suburban systems 

23          and $173 million in new support for 

24          airports, transit capital and passenger and 

                                                                  251

 1          freight rail programs.  

 2                 The renewal of our state's 

 3          transportation system affords unprecedented 

 4          opportunities to provide cleaner 

 5          alternatives and rebuild in ways that are 

 6          more resilient and less susceptible to 

 7          extreme weather events.  The Governor has 

 8          committed to reduce greenhouse gas 

 9          emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent 

10          by 2050 economy-wide.  With the adoption of 

11          smart transportation and energy policies, 

12          New York State will continue to be a 

13          national leader in the implementation of 

14          innovative and practical transportation 

15          solutions that significantly reduce 

16          congestion and pollution.  

17                 The department is committed to 

18          maximizing the participation of minority 

19          and women-owned business enterprises within 

20          state-supported capital projects. The 

21          department understands that MWBE 

22          participation is an essential component for 

23          the continued growth of our local, regional 

24          and statewide economies.  I am proud of the 

                                                                  252

 1          department's programs and practices that 

 2          have helped to facilitate increased MWBE 

 3          utilization on state-funded contracts.  

 4          Over the past several years, more than 200 

 5          potential MWBE participants have directly 

 6          benefited from outreach by DOT.  One of the 

 7          cornerstones of this outreach effort was 

 8          the WorkSmartNY Program.  Under this 

 9          initiative, DOT held sessions designed to 

10          help MWBEs procure work with DOT, including 

11          elements like the introduction to equitable 

12          business opportunities, understanding 

13          procurement opportunities, DBE vs. MWBE 

14          certification, and commercially useful 

15          function.  These innovative partnerships 

16          are helping to promote and expand 

17          opportunities for MWBEs throughout the 

18          state.  

19                 The single largest transportation 

20          challenge facing New York State is how the 

21          new administration in Washington addresses 

22          the longer-term sustainability of the 

23          federal Highway Trust Fund.  The 

24          preliminary indications are less than 

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 1          positive.  The Highway Trust Fund has been 

 2          insolvent since 2008 and has relied on more 

 3          than $144 billion in revenue transfers to 

 4          sustain authorized funding levels.  Rather 

 5          than use the opportunity of tax reform to 

 6          address the Highway Trust Fund crisis, the 

 7          administration has proposed to reduce 

 8          future federal expenditures.  To justify 

 9          this reduction in highway and transit aid, 

10          the administration is reevaluating the 

11          federal role in local projects.  These 

12          actions would transfer additional 

13          infrastructure responsibilities to the 

14          state and local governments and would end 

15          the long-standing federal/state partnership 

16          that predates the Eisenhower interstate 

17          era.  

18                 In conclusion, under Governor 

19          Cuomo's leadership, DOT has played a 

20          central role in the state's economic 

21          revitalization.  With your support of this 

22          budget proposal, DOT will continue to serve 

23          as a catalyst for job growth and creation, 

24          global economic competitiveness, and 

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 1          enhanced community quality of life.  

 2                 Thank you for your time, and I'm 

 3          happy to respond to any questions you may 

 4          have.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We will start 

 6          with our Transportation chair, Assemblyman 

 7          David Gantt.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN GANTT:  Thank you very 

 9          much, Chairman Weinstein.  

10                 Commissioner, I'm David Gantt, chair 

11          of the Transportation Committee.  You 

12          talked about -- one of the things you 

13          talked about was MWBE and your goals for 

14          them.  You talked about the people who 

15          you've had contact with.  But my question 

16          is whether or not we meet those goals at 

17          all.  Tell me what that percentage is.

18                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  

19          Mr. Chairman, the Governor is very 

20          committed and understands the importance of 

21          minority- and women-owned business 

22          development in the state, its importance to 

23          the economy and the economy's growth.  The 

24          Department of Transportation follows 

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 1          through on that with its aggressive 

 2          policies and commitments to the program 

 3          also.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN GANTT:  Can you tell me 

 5          what the percentage of the total -- you put 

 6          a number on it, I think 30 percent.  You're 

 7          nowhere near that, and I know it.  So can 

 8          you tell me where you are?

 9                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Over the 

10          last reporting period, 12 months, our 

11          achievement is 18.4 percent.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN GANTT:  I'd like to see 

13          that, I'd like to get a report on that, 

14          because I don't believe it, to be honest 

15          with you.

16                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  We will 

17          get more details to you.  

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN GANTT:  And I see them 

19          throwing those numbers around, and I know 

20          that throughout my region there's nowhere 

21          near anything like that happening.  And I'm 

22          a little bothered by those numbers.  Okay?

23                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  We will.  

24          We will.

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 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN GANTT:  The other thing 

 2          is in terms of congestion pricing.  Can you 

 3          give us a brief explanation of the 

 4          Governor's congestion pricing proposal?

 5                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  

 6          Mr. Chairman, I would like to defer on that 

 7          question.  The congestion pricing efforts 

 8          and initiative are taking place with other 

 9          agencies as primary participants, and I 

10          would like to defer to them.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN GANTT:  One other 

12          question I'd like to ask is in my district 

13          in Rochester we're doing the Inner Loop 

14          fill-in.  Inner Loop fill-in.  Could you 

15          tell me where we are with the northern 

16          piece of that?  That's the second part of 

17          that.

18                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  That's 

19          the Inner Loop, the Inner Loop fill-in.  

20          And a portion of that has essentially been 

21          completed.  I was there a few weeks ago, 

22          and there's landscaping yet to do and 

23          there's property available for development.  

24          But it's moving along well, and the next 

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 1          phases are being prepared for action.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN GANTT:  Okay.  Where are 

 3          we at with the -- I think there was 

 4          supposed to be a study done on the northern 

 5          part of it.  That's the second part.

 6                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  We're 

 7          working with the City of Rochester right 

 8          now on the design of that phase.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN GANTT:  And you've given 

10          them the money for the study?  

11                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Yes, 

12          $1.5 million.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN GANTT:  You've given 

14          that to them already?  

15                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  I can -- 

16          you know, we'll have to confirm that.  I 

17          don't know if it's been provided as cash 

18          out or if it's a commitment that they can 

19          -- that we together can work from.  We'll 

20          find that answer for you.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN GANTT:  You're committed 

22          to giving that to them.

23                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Yes.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN GANTT:  Because you 

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 1          haven't given it to them, I can tell you.  

 2          I just talked to the commissioner last 

 3          night, so -- okay?  That's not a trick 

 4          question, it's just to try and find out 

 5          where we are and when we will have that 

 6          completed.  Do you have any idea when we 

 7          will give them an answer?  

 8                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  We'll 

 9          give you -- very quickly we will provide 

10          that answer to you.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN GANTT:  Okay.  I have 

12          another question in terms of the 

13          transportation.  One is there's a new train 

14          station both in Rochester and Schenectady.  

15          Can you fill me in on where we are with 

16          those?

17                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  The 

18          Rochester station?  That station is 

19          complete.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN GANTT:  It's completed?

21                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  It's 

22          complete and operating.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN GANTT:  Can you tell me 

24          when and if we're going to do anything with 

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 1          the intermodal stuff?  Because the bus 

 2          station is -- they're in a temporary 

 3          facility now.  Are we going to complete the 

 4          bus station piece of it or no?

 5                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  

 6          Chairman, being very new to the department, 

 7          I don't know the answer to that question, 

 8          but I'll get an answer back to you.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN GANTT:  All right.  I 

10          have a couple more questions.  

11                 There's been some rumors about doing 

12          a rest stop legislation which would allow 

13          the DOT to provide commercial facilities in 

14          highway rest stops.  Currently, except for 

15          very narrow exceptions, such as 

16          tourism-related books, DVDs, and tickets to 

17          state attractions, the federal government  

18          prohibits that.  Where are we?  Can you 

19          tell us where we are with that?

20                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Well, 

21          the rest stops are in alignment with 

22          federal law and they conform to federal 

23          law.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN GANTT:  Are we conformed 

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 1          to federal law?

 2                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  We are.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN GANTT:  Okay.  Because 

 4          that's not my understanding.  But okay, 

 5          I'll take your word for it.

 6                 My next question is whether or not 

 7          there would be penalties in terms of our 

 8          loss of revenue because we were not 

 9          conforming.  But you're saying we are 

10          conforming.  

11                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  There 

12          have been no penalties.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN GANTT:  Madam Chairman, 

14          that's the questions that I have at this 

15          stage.  And I will await any information 

16          that you and I agree that you will send to 

17          me.  And please send a copy of it to the 

18          chair so they have it.

19                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Mm-hmm.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

21          Assemblyman.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN GANTT:  Thank you.  

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator Kaminsky.

24                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  I just want to 

                                                                  261

 1          thank Madam Chairwoman and my colleagues 

 2          for being so gracious in light of the 

 3          family obligation I have.  So thanks for 

 4          allowing me to ask this question.  

 5                 I was very encouraged that the 

 6          Department of Transportation was able to 

 7          unveil a big program for NY 878, Nassau 

 8          Expressway, in my district last year.  It's 

 9          been a very plagued area, and they were 

10          grateful to see the Governor in their 

11          district unveiling the project.  

12                 People just are interested in a 

13          status update in terms of where the project 

14          is, is it still on track, is it still 

15          planned to be finished by the end of 2019?  

16          And basically, where are we right now?

17                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  The 

18          project is out for procurement right now.  

19          It's a design-build project.  We're 

20          anticipating, barring any major -- we're 

21          anticipating that that contract will be 

22          solidified and awarded sometime this 

23          spring.

24                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Okay.  And is the 

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 1          dates for when construction will start and 

 2          end still where they were when they were 

 3          announced last year?  

 4                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Yes.

 5                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Okay, that's 

 6          great.

 7                 Just south of that project there are 

 8          some lights that are out along the way on 

 9          the southern part of Nassau Expressway.  

10          I'm talking with the local representatives 

11          about including them in this project, since 

12          it would make sense after.  They haven't 

13          been back on since Sandy, and it's creating 

14          some dangerous situations.  So I would ask 

15          that you look into it and we can work 

16          together on that.  And I appreciate your 

17          work on this overall project.

18                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  You're 

19          welcome.  

20                 I'm sorry, is that a question there, 

21          or --

22                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  No.  Thank you.  

23                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Okay, 

24          thank you.

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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

 2          Senator.  The next speaker?

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  I guess it's 

 4          Assemblyman Oaks.  

 5                 (Laughter.)

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Nice to have you 

 7          here, Commissioner.

 8                 I had a couple of questions.  The 

 9          2015-2016 capital program MOU talked about 

10          having an annual -- in July, an annual 

11          bridge and pavement condition report.  I 

12          don't believe that condition report has 

13          come out for either '16 or '17.  Of course 

14          '17 wouldn't be here.  But I was just 

15          trying to get a sense, do we know when 

16          those might be available and if we'll see 

17          one in July of 2018?  It's just, again, for 

18          those of us who are trying to keep track of 

19          that, that makes a big difference.

20                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  The 

21          reports have not been done.  They will be 

22          done, and I will get back to you with the 

23          date of the completed reports, and you will 

24          receive them.

                                                                  264

 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you.  

 2                 Assemblyman Gantt talked a bit about 

 3          MWBE, and I know there's a new provision in 

 4          the Governor's proposal that would extend 

 5          those requirements to municipalities and at 

 6          the local level.  And I have a sense that, 

 7          you know, before we implement the mandate 

 8          on our local governments, it would be 

 9          important to understand the number of firms 

10          we have now -- and perhaps the Governor has 

11          it, or you have it -- in each region 

12          throughout the state.  Because I think 

13          that -- you know, maybe even if you could 

14          provide to us, the past five years, the 

15          total number of jobs that DOT has done -- 

16          or that they've let out, by county, and 

17          what ones included those goals or how they 

18          were achieved on each job.  

19                 I'm just thinking if we don't have 

20          that information, I fear that if we go to 

21          those requirements that we could end up not 

22          being able to move forward because of a 

23          lack of those types of approved entities in 

24          some of our more rural areas.

                                                                  265

 1                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  I do not 

 2          have those numbers with me right now.  I 

 3          will ask the staff to gather those, and we 

 4          will provide them to you the way you've 

 5          asked.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  One of the things 

 7          also in the Governor's budget we've seen in 

 8          prior years -- like this last year, we had 

 9          extreme winter aid that was provided.  The 

10          Marchiselli and CHIPS funds are at the same 

11          as a year ago, but if you take away those 

12          extreme winter weather dollars -- and 

13          certainly this winter we've seen 

14          significant damage to roads because of 

15          additional severe weather.  Just, you know, 

16          is there any hope of us being able to get 

17          those resources back for our local roads 

18          people?

19                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Well, 

20          the transportation plan under Governor 

21          Cuomo has been providing record levels of 

22          funding for local infrastructure, local 

23          roads and bridges.  It's at a historically 

24          high level.  We have numbers in the 

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 1          proposed budget, and we feel those are 

 2          adequate to maintain and operate the 

 3          system.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  I hope that in 

 5          the negotiations -- and I understand your 

 6          point.  But certainly from those of us who 

 7          represent those people trying to maintain 

 8          and deal with their local roads, certainly 

 9          we'll be looking to try to support that as 

10          we go forward.

11                 I did see in the Executive Budget 

12          that there is a proposal to move some of 

13          the operating expenses from being funded 

14          through the Dedicated Bridge and Trust Fund 

15          and to the operating budget.  And I guess I 

16          have a question on if there are 

17          additional -- you know, we're moving some 

18          other additional expenses still there and, 

19          if so, you know, what would be the amounts 

20          of that?  And is there a plan to move 

21          further dollars out of that into the 

22          operating budget?

23                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  

24          Mr. Assemblyman, if you don't mind, I'd 

                                                                  267

 1          like to defer that question to Ron Epstein, 

 2          our CFO in the department.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Sure.

 4                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  Good afternoon, 

 5          Assemblyman.  Nice to see you again.  

 6                 So the answer to that question is 

 7          that it's part of a larger reform to align 

 8          the expenses with the operating revenues.  

 9          And so this is a budget-neutral item, so we 

10          move the expenses out, we reduce the 

11          General Fund transfer that's required to 

12          support the Dedicated Highway and Bridge 

13          Trust Fund.  No harm, no foul.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you very 

15          much.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

17          Assemblyman.

18                 Welcome, Commissioner, and 

19          congratulations on your new position.  And 

20          I truly look forward to working with you.

21                 One of the first questions that I 

22          want to ask has to do something that I 

23          believe you may have been briefed about, 

24          but it has to do with X-LITE guardrails 

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 1          that are manufactured by the Lindsay 

 2          Corporation.  I've met with DOT on it, and 

 3          we actually have passed two pieces of 

 4          legislation in the Senate regarding the 

 5          X-LITEs, because it's been uncovered that 

 6          these particular guardrail systems pose 

 7          significant health and safety threats to 

 8          people on the highways.  

 9                 And it basically came to our 

10          attention because a former constituent of 

11          mine, 17-year-old Hannah Eimers, who grew 

12          up in Fredonia, was in Tennessee driving 

13          one morning and her car left the roadway, 

14          she hit an X-LITE guardrail.  Instead of 

15          guiding her car back onto the roadway as it 

16          should have, it broke apart, came through 

17          the cab of her car, and killed her 

18          instantly.  

19                 Her family is devastated, as you can 

20          imagine, and her father Stephen has started 

21          a national campaign to get every single 

22          X-LITE guardrail off the streets.  He's 

23          uncovered so far 27 gruesome deaths across 

24          the country that have been blamed on 

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 1          X-LITEs, and multiple very, very tragic 

 2          amputations that also are associated with 

 3          people hitting these guardrails.  

 4                 I stood with Stephen last year and 

 5          we pledged that we would do something.  I 

 6          subsequently met with the DOT before you 

 7          got there.  And there are X-LITEs, it's 

 8          been identified to me, on the roadways of 

 9          New York State.  

10                 And I want to let you know there are 

11          several states that have chosen to take 

12          these X-LITE guardrails off the roadways -- 

13          Tennessee, Missouri, Rhode Island recently 

14          made the decision, Virginia, Oklahoma, 

15          Ohio, Vermont, and New Jersey already have 

16          removed 100 percent of their X-LITE 

17          systems.  Dozens of states have taken them 

18          off the approved product list, and those 

19          states range with Maryland and 

20          South Carolina becoming the 41st and 42nd 

21          states to take this step.  

22                 And so I believe that this is an 

23          urgent problem that needs to be addressed, 

24          and I would like to get an update from you 

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 1          if I could, Mr. Commissioner.  

 2                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  

 3          Chairperson, we want to thank you, I want 

 4          to thank you for your leadership on this 

 5          issue.  I think you are aware that we have 

 6          removed X-LITE from our approved product 

 7          list.  We do not spec it, we do not install 

 8          it or buy it any longer.  Safety is very 

 9          important, it's paramount, with the 

10          Department of Transportation and our 

11          facilities.

12                 After discussing the situation with 

13          Governor Cuomo, we have begun to remove 

14          these products.  There are 43 

15          installations.  We have, to date, removed 

16          16.  The remaining 27 will be removed this 

17          year, well before the end of the year.  

18                 And again, we thank you for your 

19          leadership.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  That's excellent 

21          news, and I'm very, very happy to hear 

22          that.  

23                 So those are all on state roadways; 

24          right?  

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 1                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Yes.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Do we have a 

 3          sense of how many are on local government 

 4          roadways?  

 5                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  We do 

 6          not.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  What are your 

 8          thoughts about that?  Because obviously if 

 9          they pose a hazard on state roadways, they 

10          obviously pose a hazard on local government 

11          roadways.  Do you have any ideas about how 

12          we can get to those?  

13                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  The 

14          local system is not within our 

15          jurisdiction.  But we can discuss this with 

16          you, about how that will be approached, can 

17          be approached.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Well, 

19          legislation, one of the bills that I have 

20          would ask DOT to do a study with local 

21          governments.  And I think we should follow 

22          up.  

23                 But I just want to say sincerely 

24          thank you to you and Governor Cuomo for 

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 1          your leadership on this issue.  Because I 

 2          believe that it will save New York State 

 3          residents and just the traveling public in 

 4          general their lives.  So thank you for 

 5          that.

 6                 I wanted to switch gears here, and 

 7          Assemblyman Oaks started to talk about the 

 8          DOT capital plan program.  Is the plan 

 9          meeting its scheduled commitment goals, 

10          including regional shares?  Because as you 

11          know, in the Senate we're very concerned 

12          about regional shares, fairness and 

13          equitable distribution of funds.  Can you 

14          update us on that?  

15                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  The 

16          capital transportation plan is being 

17          implemented in accord with the agreement 

18          between the Legislature and the Executive, 

19          the five-year agreement.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Are there any 

21          regions in the DOT domain that have 

22          experienced delays or shortfalls?  

23                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Not that 

24          I am aware of in terms of timing this year.  

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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  Thank you.  

 2          You know, and I know that all of the 

 3          members who have roads in their districts, 

 4          and that's just about everybody, is -- 

 5          we're all getting calls about potholes and 

 6          damage to cars.  So I think these projects 

 7          are extraordinarily important.

 8                 Can you tell the status and the 

 9          rating of the state's roads and bridges?  

10          Are we making headway in addressing 

11          deficiencies?  Because I think there have 

12          been reports that have come out in the past 

13          about deficiencies in the system.

14                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  The 

15          condition of the system is good.  There are 

16          various reports from time to time with 

17          regard to regions in the rest of the 

18          country, but the system within New York 

19          State is good.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  You know what 

21          would be helpful, Commissioner, in the MOU 

22          that was signed there are annual reports 

23          that are required to give the status on 

24          projects.  One was due this past August, 

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 1          and the Legislature hasn't seen that 

 2          report.  Is there any kind of update as to 

 3          when we'll be able to see that?  

 4                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  I will 

 5          have to get back to you on that, when that 

 6          will be provided.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  That would be 

 8          helpful.  Because I think, you know, 

 9          obviously we all have questions.  

10          Transportation issues are big in our 

11          districts.  And it will be helpful as we 

12          make decisions in the budgeting process to 

13          have that type of information available to 

14          us.

15                 I wanted to ask also about upstate 

16          transit.  So we spent hours and hours 

17          dealing with downstate transit, didn't we, 

18          Chairwoman, earlier today?  But there are 

19          also structural funding problems that I 

20          believe exist regarding upstate transit.  

21          And what steps can be taken to ensure that 

22          upstate transit operators, including the 

23          systems in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo and 

24          Albany, have more reliable, predictable 

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 1          funding?  

 2                 And do riders -- you know, our 

 3          riders deserve to have attention too.  And 

 4          it's estimated that there are very, very 

 5          marked differences between the funding that 

 6          goes towards upstate, and the percentage, 

 7          versus downstate.  Can you address that, 

 8          please?

 9                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Well, 

10          the state, under the Governor's five-year 

11          transportation initiative and the 

12          Legislature's initiative, is providing 

13          unparalleled support for transit throughout 

14          the state and upstate and downstate 

15          suburban transit all together.  

16                 Operating support for transit over 

17          the plan, the recent plan, has increased 

18          30 percent.  Capital support for the plan 

19          has increased 76 percent.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  And you 

21          probably know I represent a rural area.  

22          And what about the rural transit systems?  

23          Because the 2019 Executive Budget proposal 

24          does not include $4 million in Department 

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 1          of Health transportation funding as added 

 2          by the Legislature this past year for rural 

 3          health systems that are impacted by the 

 4          state's Medicaid changes.  Can you address 

 5          that?  

 6                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  I have 

 7          to defer to the Department of Health on 

 8          that issue.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, thank you.

10                 I also wanted to ask about a few 

11          other things.  The Governor has a proposal 

12          that I believe is a massive fee increase on 

13          our infrastructure.  Again, as somebody who 

14          represents a rural area, one of the 

15          deficits that we experience that really 

16          gets in the way of our quality of life and 

17          our economic growth has to do with 

18          broadband.  And I know that in the 

19          Governor's Executive proposal there are 

20          fiber optic fees that he includes along 

21          fiber optic cables that go along state 

22          roads.  And there's a lot of concern that 

23          I'm hearing about this, because it would 

24          treat fiber optic systems differently than 

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 1          any other public authority property.  

 2                 Can you address that, please?  

 3          Because I believe that there's a great 

 4          potential it will get in the way of more 

 5          development of broadband across the areas 

 6          that need it most.

 7                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  

 8          Chairperson, the New York Broadband 

 9          Initiative is exempt from those fees.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  But why would a 

11          company that all of a sudden they were told 

12          that they could develop -- these fees would 

13          not be on what they developed, and now 

14          later on in the game, fees are -- heavy, 

15          heavy fees are being imposed.  It will 

16          eventually increase to $50 million 

17          annually.  

18                 So if you're a company, why would 

19          you invest if all of a sudden you have 

20          these additional fees?  I think that that's 

21          why it could get in the way of more 

22          development.  It's a disincentive for 

23          companies.

24                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  I want 

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 1          to ask Ron Epstein to address that 

 2          question.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

 4          Mr. Epstein.

 5                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  Senator, how are 

 6          you?

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Good.

 8                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  So part of the 

 9          issue here is that we want to ensure that 

10          companies doing work on our right-of-way 

11          are doing it safe, have the proper 

12          insurance, and that nothing is done that 

13          would be of hazard to the motorists.  

14                 The initiative to bring broadband to 

15          rural areas of the state, as the 

16          commissioner said, would be exempt.  And 

17          again, we want to make sure that people who 

18          work in our right-of-way are paying for the 

19          cost of the maintenance that's related to 

20          their activities.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So where would 

22          this $50 million go?  Already, cable 

23          companies currently pay cities, villages, 

24          and towns across the state more than 

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 1          $200 million in franchise fees to occupy 

 2          the right-of-way, and including in the 

 3          state roads.  So would this additional 

 4          $50 million that the Governor proposes, how 

 5          would that be used?  You're saying it would 

 6          keep people safe.  It would really cost 

 7          $50 million a year to monitor the broadband 

 8          installation?

 9                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  So I'm going to 

10          defer to exactly where the funding would go 

11          to the Division of Budget.  What I will say 

12          is that part of this is the permit process, 

13          where we would actually have them not only 

14          get a permit to be in our right-of-way, but 

15          they would also have to get a highway work 

16          permit to ensure that work is done to -- a 

17          lot of times we're in a federal 

18          right-of-way, so it's done to the federal 

19          standards.  

20                 And part of the issue we have is 

21          that we want to make sure that nobody is 

22          there without our knowledge.  So this is 

23          all part of ensuring that everything is 

24          done for the health and safety of the 

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 1          residents of the state.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  I'm sure 

 3          there will be follow-up discussion on that, 

 4          because our conference has been I think 

 5          pretty clear about any fee increases, which 

 6          actually are tax increases.

 7                 Speaking of the federal government, 

 8          has New York State been receiving more or 

 9          less or the same amount of transportation 

10          funding from the feds?

11                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  It's 

12          been flat.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  For many years, 

14          correct?  

15                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  For a 

16          few years, yes.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So do you have 

18          any concerns about possible upcoming 

19          changes in federal transportation spending?  

20          We keep hearing about a possible federal 

21          transportation bill.  Do you have any 

22          information for us today as we look to pass 

23          the State Budget and what impact that could 

24          have on us?  

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 1                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  I do 

 2          not.  We have been monitoring and trying to 

 3          monitor it, but I like to say God is in the 

 4          details.  And we are waiting for those 

 5          details.  We do not have them.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, thank you.

 7                 I'll come back.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

 9          Paulin.

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Thank you 

11          very much.  

12                 And congratulations.

13                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Thank 

14          you.

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Just a few 

16          questions.  The first has to do with 

17          something in my own community -- or in 

18          Westchester County, not specifically my 

19          district.  But, you know, the Executive 

20          proposes including $8 million for the 

21          operating costs for the Lower Hudson 

22          Transit Link.  Is that an annual cost?  Or 

23          is that because the budget is crossing 

24          over -- you know, it's not starting till 

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 1          October.  What would be, then, the annual 

 2          cost if it's not?  

 3                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  That is 

 4          for six months of startup.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Six months?  

 6                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Yes.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  And what is 

 8          the progress of the east-west second phase 

 9          that we had put money in for the capital 

10          component?

11                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  Assemblywoman, you 

12          don't mind if I --

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Sure.

14                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  So the State of 

15          New York has agreed to fund the first 

16          phase, which is $91 million in capital 

17          improvements and obviously a significant 

18          operating cost going forward.  

19                 As part of the work of the Mass 

20          Transit Task Force, the parties agreed that 

21          we would come back together and 

22          collectively figure out a way how to 

23          advance the second phase.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  That's 

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 1          actually not correct.  I was on that task 

 2          force, and I went to every single meeting 

 3          except one.  And at the time, we had no 

 4          plan to come back together, the Mass 

 5          Transit Task Force.  In fact, we asked if 

 6          we could.  There's only been one subsequent 

 7          meeting since we did our report.

 8                 Phase 2, as I'm calling it -- I 

 9          don't think it was labeled that -- which is 

10          the White Plains to Port Chester link, we 

11          agreed to, the Legislature and the 

12          Governor, at the end of last session, to 

13          fund the capital component.  I subsequently 

14          had, along with some of my colleagues, 

15          conversations about how that would get 

16          done, and had all expectation to hear more 

17          about it today.  

18                 So there is -- obviously what you're 

19          saying is there is no plan, and it has been 

20          abandoned, even though we made a commitment 

21          to fund the capital component.

22                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  No, that's not 

23          what I'm saying.  And I too participated in 

24          that task force process.  

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 1                 What I can tell you is that our 

 2          focus is we're getting the first phase up 

 3          running by October 2018, and we have talked 

 4          about going after Phase 2 as soon as that 

 5          work is up and running.

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  So there's 

 7          been no progress in terms of evaluating 

 8          where you would get the balance of the 

 9          capital funding -- you know, federal 

10          dollars and so forth -- and no evaluation 

11          of the plan for that phase as of this date?

12                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  As I said, the 

13          second phase, we always talked about it 

14          being a shared responsibility.

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Shared with 

16          who?

17                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  With the local 

18          governments.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  I see.  So 

20          have those conversations gotten underway?

21                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  I'll have to get 

22          back to you.

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Okay.  Well, 

24          this is very disappointing, because we were 

                                                                  285

 1          under an impression from the prior 

 2          administration -- I don't mean governor, I 

 3          mean the commissioner -- that there was 

 4          progress made.  So this seems like a back 

 5          step.

 6                 The second thing, the tunnel.  You 

 7          know, we know that money was put in the 

 8          tunnel from Long Island to Westchester.  

 9          Where exactly is that?  

10                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  The 

11          Governor is very interested and has made 

12          funding commitments to the economic 

13          development of Long Island.  The tunnel 

14          initiative is part of that enhancement of 

15          the economy of Long Island.  And the 

16          department has done a feasibility study of 

17          the tunnel.  The study says the tunnel is 

18          feasible, so now we are taking some next 

19          steps looking at analyzing the economic 

20          engineering and environmental aspects of 

21          that.  

22                 And we will be working with the 

23          private sector, with industry, to determine 

24          what interest and funding they may suggest 

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 1          for that project.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Since there 

 3          was a -- this project has been suggested 

 4          before.  And there was a great deal of 

 5          concern from Westchester, on the 

 6          Westchester side -- not, again, my 

 7          district, but I'm sure Assemblyman Otis 

 8          will speak to that later.  When is the 

 9          local community going to be involved so 

10          that this doesn't get too far out there 

11          before we get some input?

12                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  We're in 

13          the very early stages.  But we will be 

14          working with the local communities on both 

15          ends of the project, certainly, to address 

16          the benefits and the impacts.

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  And then I 

18          just wanted to follow up on what 

19          Senator Young was talking about on the 

20          broadband.  

21                 You know, I think we all have a 

22          great deal of reliance on our technology 

23          and we know that 5G is going to be the new 

24          phase, the new way to access our phones and 

                                                                  287

 1          all of that.  And I too share a concern 

 2          that if we charge a fee that's not being 

 3          charged anywhere else in this country, that 

 4          those technology companies, which are 

 5          national companies, are going to be going 

 6          elsewhere to expand that service, and we're 

 7          not going to be able to enjoy what we need 

 8          to enjoy for our economic development.  

 9                 Any comment?  

10                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Well, 

11          again, I would repeat what Ron Epstein said 

12          about that.  And we welcome further 

13          discussion with you on the subject.

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Is there a 

15          way that you came up with the amount of 

16          money that's being charged, since this is 

17          unique to New York?

18                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  We have to defer 

19          to the Division of Budget on that question.

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Understood.  

21                 Okay, thank you very much.

22                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Thank 

23          you.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

                                                                  288

 1                 Senator Dilan.

 2                 SENATOR DILAN:  Thank you.

 3                 Commissioner, last year DOT cited 

 4          the cost of oil, which was $120 per barrel 

 5          at that time -- as compared to $63 just a 

 6          few days ago -- as the major cause of 

 7          massive increase in projects over the last 

 8          decade.  So I want to know, do you have any 

 9          additional specific information on how the 

10          decline affects project costs and bidding?  

11          Are your asphalt and transportation costs 

12          coming down proportionately to these 

13          changes?  And has DOT rebid longer-term 

14          projects to find savings and deliver more 

15          projects per dollar?  

16                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Well, 

17          Senator, there's a huge amount of 

18          infrastructure investment taking place 

19          throughout this state -- as we indicated, 

20          record amounts, historic amounts everywhere 

21          in the state.  The price of oil, the price 

22          of energy is one component of that 

23          construction.  Yes, the price has come down 

24          a bit.  I don't know what was discussed --

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 1                 SENATOR DILAN:  Come down about 

 2          50 percent.

 3                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  But 

 4          that's one component.  And unfortunately, 

 5          other costs rise too.  So we have not seen 

 6          a huge impact from that reduction.  A bit 

 7          with asphalt, but not huge.

 8                 SENATOR DILAN:  I just find it 

 9          curious that that was the major citation 

10          that the cost of oil was costing these 

11          massive increases, and it goes down by 

12          50 percent in visible savings.  So if you 

13          have further information, I would like --

14                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  I mean, 

15          we can discuss that and look at some facts 

16          and figures as to how the --

17                 SENATOR DILAN:  With respect to the 

18          Dedicated Highway and Bridge Trust Fund, do 

19          you know what's the reasoning behind the 

20          sweep of $376 million?  And why is there a 

21          creation of a new revenue stream through 

22          the DOT fiber optic access provision?

23                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  I'm 

24          sorry, can you repeat the very last portion 

                                                                  290

 1          of that question?  

 2                 SENATOR DILAN:  Why is there a 

 3          creation of a new revenue stream through 

 4          the Department of Transportation fiber 

 5          optic access provision?  Why is that 

 6          happening?

 7                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  So, Senator, I 

 8          think you asked two questions there.

 9                 SENATOR DILAN:  There are two.

10                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  The first part, 

11          you asked about a sweep, which I personally 

12          am not familiar with, so I can't address 

13          that.

14                 The second piece, we did discuss the 

15          issue of the process would allow us to 

16          permit who is using our right-of-way and 

17          ensuring that work is done safely.

18                 SENATOR DILAN:  And what's happening 

19          with that money?  And I'm surprised that 

20          you don't know that you have a 376 --

21                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  Money that was 

22          swept?  I'm just not familiar with that 

23          provision.

24                 SENATOR DILAN:  All right.  So if 

                                                                  291

 1          you could provide that information, I would 

 2          like it.

 3                 I would like to move on to 

 4          high-speed rail.  I remember several years 

 5          ago we did receive money from the federal 

 6          government.  So can you bring us up to 

 7          speed with respect to what's going on with 

 8          high-speed rail in New York State?

 9                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Well, 

10          the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is 

11          ongoing.  The environmental assessments are 

12          ongoing with that.  A final --

13                 SENATOR DILAN:  Can I just pause you 

14          for a second?  That environmental study was 

15          due to us in 2012, and we're still waiting 

16          for it.

17                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  It is 

18          ongoing, yes.

19                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  So, Senator, one 

20          of the reasons why that environmental 

21          impact statement is still ongoing is that 

22          we received literally thousands and 

23          thousands of comments from some of the 

24          freight railroads, and each and every one 

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 1          of those comments needs to be responded to 

 2          individually.

 3                 SENATOR DILAN:  Well, I know that 

 4          in -- I believe it was 2011 we were told, 

 5          just to refresh your recollection, that the 

 6          environmental impact study was supposed to 

 7          be finalized in 2012.  At that time I think 

 8          they were supposed to also provide 

 9          information on what was the average speed 

10          of a passenger rail train traveling from 

11          Albany-Rensselaer to the Buffalo Depew 

12          station or the Niagara Falls station -- 

13          because, you know, Senator Kennedy wants to 

14          get home a lot sooner.

15                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  What I can tell 

16          you is a lot of the projects that you're 

17          talking about have been completed 

18          independently.  So the Niagara Falls 

19          station has been rebuilt.  We talked about 

20          Rochester.  Schenectady is under 

21          construction.  The double tracking between 

22          Schenectady and Albany is complete.  Also 

23          we've completed the work on the Hudson line 

24          as well as the fourth track at 

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 1          Albany-Rensselaer station.  

 2                 So all those projects that were 

 3          funded and authorized have been completed.

 4                 SENATOR DILAN:  I can understand you 

 5          may not have the information today, but I 

 6          would love to get whatever you can 

 7          provide --

 8                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Yes.

 9                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  The EIS did not 

10          impact any of those projects.

11                 SENATOR DILAN:  -- to the committee.  

12          Thank you.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

15          Skoufis.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN SKOUFIS:  Thank you, 

17          Madam Chair.  

18                 Congratulations, as others have 

19          noted, on your appointment.

20                 I'd like to simply delve a little 

21          bit into some funding that was provided for 

22          improvements to Route 17 as part of the 

23          proposed LEGOLAND project in Orange County, 

24          New York.  I raised this issue last year, 

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 1          and the commissioner at the time suggested 

 2          that my questioning was a bit premature, 

 3          they had not quite gotten to that table.  

 4          But he did suggest that the DOT was a main 

 5          player at that table and certainly was part 

 6          of the conversation.

 7                 Prior to the recent award in 

 8          October, LEGOLAND had already been given 

 9          $7 million in REDC funding, as well as a 

10          very substantial PILOT from the Orange 

11          County IDA.  But then in October, an 

12          additional $17 million of state taxpayer 

13          money was provided to this project, 

14          $10 million of which was earmarked for 

15          improvements to Route 17.

16                 What deeply concerns me is that 

17          representatives of Merlin Entertainments, 

18          LEGOLAND, had stated prior to this award 

19          that if the state did not come in and 

20          assist with funding for improvements to 

21          Route 17, they would foot the entire bill 

22          themselves.  In fact, they would be 

23          required to as part of their FEIS for the 

24          project.

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 1                 So my question is, why did we 

 2          provide $10 million in transportation 

 3          taxpayer funding to improve Route 17 for 

 4          this project when they said they would pay 

 5          for it themselves?  

 6                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  

 7          Assemblyman, I'll have to get back to you 

 8          on that question.  I'll get an answer and 

 9          come back to you.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN SKOUFIS:  Okay.  That's 

11          all I have.  Thank you.

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

13                 Our next speaker is Senator Kennedy.

14                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  Thank you, 

15          Chairwoman.

16                 Welcome, Commissioner.  

17          Congratulations.  Thanks for your service.

18                 I wanted to get right into the 

19          Department of Transportation's commitment 

20          to study the imbalance of funding in STOA 

21          funds for upstate and downstate.  It's 

22          already been mentioned.  There was a study 

23          that was committed to last year; we've been 

24          dealing with this same issue of this 

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 1          imbalance of funding year after year.  The 

 2          NFTA, which is the only light rail system 

 3          outside of New York City, is woefully 

 4          underfunded.  The capital plan that they 

 5          would need in the next five years is to the 

 6          tune of about $100 million just to maintain 

 7          the level of service for the residents of 

 8          the community that we represent.

 9                 Where is this study?  What's the 

10          cause for delay?  It was committed to us to 

11          be completed by November 1st.  It's going 

12          on three months after the fact.  And I want 

13          to know how we can use that study in this 

14          upcoming budget.

15                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Again, 

16          the funding for operating assistance is at 

17          a very high level, unparalleled, for the 

18          upstate systems, downstate suburban 

19          systems, together with all the systems.  

20                 With regard to that particular 

21          study, I will have to get an answer back to 

22          you with that.  We'll get back to you.

23                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  Well, here's what 

24          I will tell you.  You used the word 

                                                                  297

 1          "unparalleled."  I wholeheartedly disagree.  

 2          I have in front of me a STOA history of 

 3          funding.  And if you look at it, and it 

 4          talks about the NFTA, just a 2 percent 

 5          annual increase, which is what is necessary 

 6          just to simply pay the bills.  And, you 

 7          know, even this year it's at less than 

 8          1 percent of an increase, about $500,000, 

 9          and the number is up to about 

10          $52.5 million.

11                 So they've been very, very slight 

12          increases, slight increases.  And what's 

13          happening is what we're seeing -- and we 

14          spent hours regarding the MTA -- the issues 

15          that are now happening at the MTA we've 

16          been dealing with now for years.  And it is 

17          a real problem.  It's a problem on the 

18          ground.  It's a systematic problem.  It 

19          needs to be resolved.  And, you know, we 

20          asked, myself and Assemblywoman Crystal 

21          Peoples-Stokes, whose districts are most 

22          impacted by this disparity, by these cuts, 

23          by the problems with these services, asked 

24          for this study last year.  It was 

                                                                  298

 1          committed, it was recommitted over the 

 2          summer, in July, that on or around 

 3          November 1st, the study would be done.  It 

 4          will, we believe, highlight the disparities 

 5          that we can then address in this budget.  

 6          So I would ask you to get that to us in 

 7          very quick timing, hopefully this week, if 

 8          it was supposed to be done three months 

 9          ago.

10                 To the next issue, again, regarding 

11          light rail funding issues, the decrease in 

12          funding, the problems with funding at the 

13          NFTA that have occurred over the years have 

14          resulted in the federal transportation 

15          authorities saying that the $600 million 

16          for the expansion of the light rail in 

17          Amherst is at risk.  So I'd like to know 

18          what we can do to address that issue as 

19          well.  

20                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  I am not 

21          familiar with that particular light rail 

22          initiative.  But I will get back to you 

23          with an answer to that.

24                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  Okay.  When do we 

                                                                  299

 1          expect you to get back to us, Commissioner?  

 2                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Very 

 3          soon.

 4                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  Okay.  So this 

 5          week?  Next week?

 6                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Not this 

 7          week.

 8                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  I would expect it 

 9          to be in very short order, hopefully by -- 

10          Maybe by the end of session next week.  

11          That gives an entire week to put things in 

12          order and to get these answers.

13                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  We can 

14          try to get an answer -- it will be very 

15          soon.

16                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  Others have 

17          brought up the pothole issues across the 

18          state.  The state has liability for road 

19          defects only between May 1st and 

20          November 15th.  Which means that during the 

21          winter months, especially now when we're 

22          all hearing from our constituents, 

23          especially upstate in the urban areas, the 

24          older urban areas, potholes are a major, 

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 1          major problem with the change in weather.  

 2                 Can you commit to working with us to 

 3          changing the inequities through the budget 

 4          to have these issues fixed?  

 5                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  We can 

 6          discuss that and work with you on that.  We 

 7          certainly welcome that discussion.

 8                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  It also feeds into 

 9          the CHIPS funding.  And from what I'm 

10          seeing, there's been an elimination of 

11          $65 million of additional funds that were 

12          included for highway repair in last year's 

13          final enacted budget.  Do you believe that 

14          the state needs to keep these CHIPS funds 

15          at the same level as last year, to enhance 

16          them?  Or do you believe that we can afford 

17          this $65 million hit?  Because I certainly 

18          don't.

19                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Well, 

20          again, overall we feel that the funding 

21          levels in the proposed budget overall are 

22          adequate to maintain the system in good 

23          order.  

24                 With regard to a particular line 

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 1          item account, we can have that discussion 

 2          about how it might be changed.  But that 

 3          would have to be something we would do with 

 4          the Legislature and the Executive and 

 5          within budget guidelines that we're all 

 6          working with.

 7                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  Can you explain 

 8          why that $65 million was eliminated in the 

 9          budget?  

10                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  So if I may, the 

11          funding for CHIPS is consistent with what 

12          the Executive and the Legislature agreed to 

13          in the MOU.  The funding in question was an 

14          add by the Legislature.  And we will 

15          obviously have those conversations with you 

16          moving forward during the budget 

17          negotiations, whether or not that add will 

18          be restored.

19                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  My time is up.  I 

20          will come back.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

22                 Assemblywoman Rozic.

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROZIC:  So I want to 

24          follow the last line of questioning from 

                                                                  302

 1          Senator Kennedy and take a broader-picture 

 2          look at the budget.

 3                 So as you know, unlike the MTA, the 

 4          DOT is not required to do a five-year or a 

 5          20-year capital plan that is readily 

 6          available to the Legislature or the public.  

 7          Historically, the DOT and the MTA five-year 

 8          capital plans have been both negotiated and 

 9          approved simultaneously, though I know in 

10          more recent times that process has 

11          differed.  We've sort of reached some 

12          parity between the two.  In more recent 

13          years I know there was an MOU with a 

14          growing list of different projects that 

15          many of us in the Legislature care about.  

16                 I'm still concerned about the 

17          transparency and the accountability within 

18          the DOT's capital plan and the fact that, 

19          more often than not, we don't know what 

20          those projects are, what their timelines 

21          are, and when they're coming down.  

22                 I sponsor a bill with Senator Lanza 

23          from Staten Island -- A1234, believe it or 

24          not -- that would require the DOT to do a 

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 1          public five-year and/or 20-year capital 

 2          plan.  I'd like your comments on that, to 

 3          see if you're open to that, and kind of 

 4          come to an agreement that maybe in the 

 5          upcoming year we can figure out what that 

 6          schedule would look like, what the funding 

 7          levels would be, and a process in which the 

 8          public and the Legislature has an input in 

 9          these five or 20-year capital plans.

10                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Well, 

11          the funding levels and the number of 

12          projects, certainly very high.  We are 

13          working with the five-year transportation 

14          plan right now.  We can -- we try to 

15          provide people a look ahead, meaning the 

16          citizens a look ahead of projects that are 

17          coming down the road within that plan.  

18          It's not possible to provide for every 

19          project beyond that time period, certainly 

20          very large projects.  Sure, they take 

21          multiple years to not only plan and fund 

22          but then to construct.  

23                 And I am not familiar with the bill 

24          that you proposed.

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 1                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  If I could just 

 2          add that the department does, on its 

 3          website, have a list of all the projects in 

 4          the five-year plan easily accessible for 

 5          people to see, with an estimated letting 

 6          target.  

 7                 So the MOU that was approved by this 

 8          Legislature, that is what we're delivering, 

 9          and those are all available on the website.

10                 The commissioner is referring to the 

11          actual physical letting schedule, which we 

12          do have a rolling -- also a rolling 

13          schedule on our website.

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROZIC:  Okay, I'll 

15          give you a copy of the legislation.  It's 

16          cosponsored by a majority of members in our 

17          house in a very bipartisan, bicameral way.

18                 So thank you.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator Savino.

20                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Senator 

21          Young.

22                 So first, welcome.  Congratulations 

23          on your appointment, I think.  You may find 

24          it's a lot more complicated than you want.

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 1                 But following up on the 

 2          Assemblywoman's comments about large 

 3          projects, as you know, DOT completed one 

 4          very large project in the downstate region 

 5          just last year to much great fanfare.  I 

 6          think we even had a classic car cross the K 

 7          Bridge, as we now call it, the Kosciuszko 

 8          Bridge.  But it's only half the bridge.  

 9          And so while it may have made a slight 

10          improvement in traffic, it's really not 

11          what the people of Brooklyn -- and when I 

12          saw Brooklyn, I mean it backs up all the 

13          way up down the BQE onto the Gowanus 

14          Expressway sometimes.  

15                 So is there any -- can you give us 

16          an update on when the second span will be 

17          completed and when people will be able to 

18          utilize it?  

19                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Yes.  

20          And that is an extremely large project in 

21          our overall program, in the transportation 

22          program.  Half of it is complete; the other 

23          half will be complete in the spring of 

24          2019.

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 1                 SENATOR SAVINO:  2019.  So -- well, 

 2          I guess we'll have to suffer through.  

 3                 So again, when you back yourself up 

 4          onto the BQE, sometimes past the Brooklyn 

 5          Bridge -- because, as you know, the Gowanus 

 6          and the BQE were built I guess at a time 

 7          when no one could have imagined any of the 

 8          traffic that's there.  I'm sure others 

 9          might want to talk about the triple 

10          cantilever project, which even -- that's 

11          not really your project, that's the city's 

12          project.  

13                 But they're all interconnected 

14          roads.  And I think that's confusing for 

15          some of us, who is responsible for what 

16          section of what highway.  You know, it's 

17          interesting that the Belt Parkway is a city 

18          asset, not a state asset.  But so it 

19          creates complications for those of us who 

20          are trying to find solutions.  

21                 The Gowanus Expressway is no better 

22          than a cow path.  And your predecessor, 

23          Matt Driscoll, came down to Staten Island, 

24          he spent some time with us about two years 

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 1          ago, and he got to see firsthand what 

 2          happened when one side of the highway 

 3          system is improved and another isn't.  

 4                 During the Obama administration, we 

 5          were able to secure a significant amount of 

 6          federal money to improve the Staten Island 

 7          Expressway, and your guys have done an 

 8          amazing job there, that's a fact.  It's 

 9          wider, there's more entrances, we've 

10          reconfigured some of the exits, all in an 

11          effort to make the Staten Island Expressway 

12          a more efficient use of road time.  And 

13          it's worked.  

14                 And the problem is once you get over 

15          the Verrazano Bridge, you hit the Gowanus 

16          Expressway, which is three lanes.  And on 

17          any given day, if there's one accident, it 

18          shuts down traffic across the bridge, down 

19          the expressway, over the Port Authority 

20          bridges and into New Jersey.  It is an 

21          unsustainable situation for people who 

22          utilize that corridor.  

23                 And so I've asked every commissioner 

24          who comes before me, what can we do to 

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 1          improve the conditions on the Gowanus?  Can 

 2          we deck it?  You know, there's something 

 3          that has to be done, because the people who 

 4          live in South Brooklyn and the people who 

 5          live along Sunset Park into Assemblyman 

 6          Ortiz's district, all the way around to 

 7          Assemblywoman Simon, this is unsustainable.  

 8          And there has to be an idea that has not 

 9          come up yet that will solve this problem.  

10                 And I'm hoping you will be able to 

11          tell us what you think can be done to 

12          improve traffic along the corridor.  And if 

13          you don't know now, that's fine.  If you 

14          want to take some time to study it and come 

15          to Staten Island, come to Brooklyn and see 

16          it firsthand, it certainly would be an 

17          eye-opening experience.

18                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  I 

19          welcome your invitation.  I have been, I 

20          have looked.  My son lives nearby where 

21          we're talking about, and I welcome the 

22          invitation to come back.  

23                 Improvements have been made, but 

24          unfortunately they've been incremental and 

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 1          they've been over long periods of time.  

 2          It's a very old highway, built before 

 3          current standards were used.  Plus 

 4          standards are changing and improving all 

 5          the time.  

 6                 But incremental improvements have 

 7          been made.  The K Bridge is one.  It's 

 8          upstream, but it has and it will have 

 9          positive impacts.  And we've been doing 

10          some traffic management work with moveable 

11          barriers on a portion of the highway, and 

12          we will continue with a focus on the 

13          Gowanus, together with the city, seeking 

14          funding and looking at some tweaks, if you 

15          will, along with, long term, very large 

16          funding efforts for very large projects.  

17                 But I cannot provide those now, I'm 

18          not -- I don't think the department can 

19          provide them for the next 20 years.  But we 

20          welcome that discussion, myself and the 

21          department staff, looking down the road.

22                 SENATOR SAVINO:  In the few seconds 

23          I have left, the one thing I would ask is 

24          that a few years ago Assemblyman Cusick and 

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 1          I carried a bill that would create a 

 2          transportation czar, because what we found 

 3          at the time, there were these major 

 4          projects happening and City DOT was not 

 5          speaking to State DOT when they planned 

 6          them.  And the MTA was planning projects 

 7          without talking to either of your agencies.  

 8          And there were several of these projects 

 9          that were being done at the same time, 

10          creating absolute gridlock.  

11                 It's improved over the years, but 

12          what I would ask you to do as the new 

13          commissioner of State DOT is to have that 

14          same relationship with City DOT so, if 

15          they're working below the Gowanus, you're 

16          not working on top of it at the same time.  

17          You know, try and coordinate those projects 

18          to at least mitigate the effects of 

19          congestion.

20                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Thank 

21          you.  And we are having continuing dialogue 

22          with the city Department of Transportation, 

23          and we're also using the Governor's Drivers 

24          First program initiative to give attention 

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 1          to who's using that roadway while the 

 2          construction is going on, rather than just 

 3          focusing on the engineering efficiencies 

 4          and the construction the contractor needs.  

 5          We're looking at the drivers and the 

 6          motorists, and we're trying our best to 

 7          mitigate those -- doing everything in a 

 8          uncoordinated manner, as you might suggest. 

 9                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.  And 

10          just one final comment; I know I'm slightly 

11          over time here.  

12                 You mentioned the issue of MWBEs.  

13          Two years ago the Senate Labor Committee 

14          held a hearing on prompt payment in the 

15          construction industry, and one of the 

16          focuses on it was how to maintain these 

17          MWBE contractors who finally get a contract 

18          with the city or the state or the MTA, and 

19          one of the big problems for them is the 

20          government is not a particularly good payer 

21          on time, which affects their ability to 

22          remain in the MWBE program.  

23                 So we would hope that you take a 

24          look at the results of that hearing, take 

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 1          the recommendations to heart, because it 

 2          doesn't do us any good to get an MWBE 

 3          contractor obtain a part of a state 

 4          contract, not be able to stay in the 

 5          program because they can't meet payroll 

 6          because the state isn't paying them on 

 7          time.

 8                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Senator, 

 9          agreed.  And one of the many elements that 

10          we look at and apply and work hard on with 

11          regard to that program has to do with 

12          prompt payment and how it relates to cash 

13          flow.  Without the cash flow, the MBE/WBE 

14          firm isn't in business.  

15                 So yes, that's very important.  And 

16          it goes to prime contractors.  They have to 

17          understand that.  We have it in our specs.  

18          It's a continuing effort.  And we're 

19          certainly aware of the criticality of 

20          prompt payment and cash flow.  Without it, 

21          you're dead.

22                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.  

23                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

24          Buchwald.

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 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  Thank you, 

 2          Madam Chairwoman.  

 3                 And good afternoon, gentlemen.  I 

 4          suppose my first question is to 

 5          Mr. Epstein, based on his earlier response 

 6          to my colleague Assemblywoman Paulin.  

 7                 What work, Mr. Epstein, if any, has 

 8          the department done on Phase 2 of the Lower 

 9          Hudson Transit Link, the portion that runs 

10          from White Plains to Port Chester?

11                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  So I'm going to 

12          have to defer to you, get back to you at a 

13          later time, because I've personally been 

14          working on Phase 1, so I cannot answer 

15          questions regarding Phase 2.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  I certainly 

17          know what work the Assembly has done in the 

18          past year.  The Speaker and the Westchester 

19          Assembly delegation secured $13.5 million 

20          towards the capital requirements to 

21          establish Phase 2.  My constituents are of 

22          the expectation that this time must be used 

23          by NYSDOT to do the planning needed to, as 

24          quickly as possible, extend the Lower 

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 1          Hudson Transit Link so that for the first 

 2          time Westchester County has an east-west 

 3          mass transit option.  I think that is of 

 4          crucial importance to the long-term success 

 5          and viability of the Lower Hudson Transit 

 6          Link.  Certainly it's something that the 

 7          Mass Transit Task Force envisioned would be 

 8          part of making this a successful effort.  

 9                 So I certainly urge you to make sure 

10          that that response comes as quick as 

11          possible and, most importantly, make sure 

12          that the substance of that response is 

13          as -- recognizing the fact that there are 

14          13.5 million reasons for the department to 

15          have made progress.

16                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  Understood.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  Thank you.  

18                 And Commissioner, again, 

19          congratulations on your appointment.  And 

20          unfortunately the Assembly doesn't have 

21          formal authority to take away your acting 

22          title, but I'd certainly urge my colleagues 

23          in the other body to act swiftly, inasmuch 

24          as I think it's very important to have 

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 1          permanent leadership of important 

 2          departments in our state.

 3                 And in that regard can I ask you, 

 4          Commissioner, how many NYSDOT regional 

 5          directors have joined you in Albany today?  

 6                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Can you 

 7          repeat that?

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  How many 

 9          NYSDOT regional directors have joined you 

10          in Albany today?

11                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Today?  

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  Yes.  Are in 

13          Albany today.

14                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Are in 

15          Albany.  I know one is, certainly, but the 

16          others --

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  Which one?  

18                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Sam 

19          Zhou, Region 1.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  Is Todd 

21          Westhuis in Albany today?  

22                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  He is, 

23          but he's no longer a regional director.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  Okay.  What's 

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 1          his current --

 2                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  He's the 

 3          chief of staff.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  Well, first 

 5          of all, congratulations to him.  He's 

 6          fantastically talented, and I commend him 

 7          and you on his promotion.  

 8                 But I would then ask, as a 

 9          representative Assemblyman from Region 8 of 

10          DOT where Mr. Westhuis is listed as the 

11          regional director and has been serving in 

12          that capacity, does the department have a 

13          new regional director in place for 

14          Region 8?  

15                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  We have 

16          an acting regional director.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  And who is 

18          that?  

19                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  And I 

20          know his first name, Lance, and I do not 

21          recall his last name.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  If you can 

23          ensure that all representatives, both 

24          Assemblymembers and Senators, from Region 8 

                                                                  317

 1          have Lance's full name and -- presumably 

 2          the contact information and phone number is 

 3          the same, but email address and so forth.  

 4          I'm very firmly of the belief that every 

 5          region, especially the Lower Hudson Valley, 

 6          which has a lot of transportation needs, 

 7          including the Lower Hudson Transit Link 

 8          being moved forward, is deserving just as 

 9          much of permanent leadership.  

10                 And it's something in the past, in 

11          my experience, at times we in Region 8 have 

12          trouble, not with the regional office, 

13          which tends to be very responsive, but just 

14          in getting the attention to some of the 

15          needs that we have.  And certainly having 

16          someone accountable that we can work with 

17          is tremendously important.

18                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Okay.  

19          Thank you.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN BUCHWALD:  Thank you 

21          very much, Madam Chair.

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

23                 Senator Krueger.

24                 SENATOR KRUEGER:   Good afternoon.  

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 1          Welcome.

 2                 I just want to follow up and ask 

 3          you, since I don't think you'll have it 

 4          today, following up on several questions, 

 5          can you please confirm how much is being 

 6          swept from the Highway and Bridge Trust 

 7          Fund?  My colleague mentioned $376 million, 

 8          but I believe there are some other sections 

 9          of the Article VII bill that sweep even 

10          more.  

11                 So I find it a little disturbing 

12          that you actually highlight in your 

13          testimony your concern about the flat 

14          federal Highway Trust Fund and expectations 

15          of not getting more money, and yet we're 

16          sweeping our existing.

17                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  Senator, I 

18          guess -- and this question I think Senator 

19          Dilan, you may have asked this question as 

20          well.  So sitting here thinking about that, 

21          what I think you're referring is to moving 

22          the operating expenses for snow and ice and 

23          some other operating activities out of the 

24          Dedicated Highway and Bridge Trust Fund, 

                                                                  319

 1          but that is being paid for out of the 

 2          General Fund.  That is not a sweep, it is 

 3          revenue-neutral in terms of the state 

 4          budget.  It's just a matter of where it 

 5          gets paid from.  

 6                 So I'm not aware of any funds being 

 7          swept from the Highway Trust Fund.

 8                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So I would like a 

 9          breakdown afterward.

10                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  Yes.

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  But I think -- I 

12          think partly you may be right.  It talks 

13          about taking the funds for bus safety, rail 

14          safety --

15                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  Yeah, that is 

16          exactly what I'm talking about.

17                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  -- motor carriers, 

18          snow and ice removal.  But it also talks 

19          about taking prevention course pilot 

20          program fees, motorcycle registration fees, 

21          license fees, on and on and on.  

22                 So I really would be interested in 

23          understanding exactly what's the movement 

24          of the money and are these programs we say 

                                                                  320

 1          exist for specific reasons being covered.

 2                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  Sure.  And we'll 

 3          work with you on that.

 4                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Great.

 5                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  Now that you've 

 6          listed that -- those series of items, I'm 

 7          confident that that's exactly what's 

 8          happening here.  This is not a revenue 

 9          sweep, this is just a reallocation, part of 

10          budgetary reform, which is aligning 

11          operating expenses with operating expenses 

12          and capital with capital.

13                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So my colleague 

14          Senator Dilan also reminded me of the 

15          high-speed rail issue and the fact that -- 

16          and you answered his questions about the 

17          study.  But as I recall, we had several 

18          federal grants that actually came to us.  

19          So can you find out for me how much money 

20          we got from the federal government for 

21          high-speed rail, and where is it and what 

22          are we doing with it?  

23                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  So we can get you 

24          that list.  And all of the projects that I 

                                                                  321

 1          listed -- and I can list them again if 

 2          you'd like -- those were all partially 

 3          federally aided.  So that money has been 

 4          expended for the projects that they were 

 5          intended for.  

 6                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So all the federal 

 7          money we got for high-speed rail has been 

 8          expended.

 9                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  Yes.

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Although it's a 

11          little unclear whether it was actually for 

12          high-speed rail.

13                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  We can 

14          get you those projects and precisely what 

15          they are for.

16                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Okay.  Okay.  

17                 So at least in New York City we have 

18          a problem, which is we have these charter 

19          bus companies who claim there's no 

20          authority the State or the City of New York 

21          has over them, even though they set up 

22          basically fake bus terminals on the streets 

23          of my district in midtown Manhattan.  And 

24          they have a particularly high rate, it 

                                                                  322

 1          seems, of accidents and crashes because 

 2          they don't seem to bother to follow the 

 3          rules of how many hours a bus driver is 

 4          allowed to drive or whether they have a 

 5          good driving record.

 6                 And I know there's this constant 

 7          answer for us, well, there's federal 

 8          preemption when they're not a New York 

 9          State-chartered bus company.  We must have 

10          something we can do.  This is really 

11          getting out of hand.  Do you have an answer 

12          of what we can do here?

13                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Senator, 

14          we at the Department of Transportation do 

15          inspections of physical properties, 

16          physical vehicles.  I don't think, however, 

17          that's what you're referring to.  

18                 But what we also do is work together 

19          with the Department of Motor Vehicles, with 

20          them having an interest in licensing and 

21          certifying the drivers of those vehicles.

22                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I think they 

23          purposely make sure their vehicles are not 

24          licensed by the State of New York.

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 1                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  And, Senator, if I 

 2          could also add that since the Worldwide 

 3          Tours accident back I think in 2011, under 

 4          the Governor's direction we have greatly 

 5          increased the number of random roadside 

 6          inspections.  So whether or not you're 

 7          domiciled in New York and fall under our 

 8          jurisdiction, we pull a vehicle over and do 

 9          the inspection, and if they are not safe, 

10          they cannot continue on their journey.

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And if they set up 

12          a fake bus depot in my district with 

13          signage and claiming that they have the 

14          right to be there with six buses, is there 

15          something you can do to help me?

16                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  Well, then we 

17          would be able to send inspectors out to do 

18          the random inspections.  So that vehicle 

19          cannot move if it fails our inspection.

20                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  West 35th Street, 

21          please --

22                 (Laughter.)

23                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Between 6th and 

24          Broadway.

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 1                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  West 35th and 

 2          what?

 3                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  West 35th between 

 4          6th and Broadway.  My office will be happy 

 5          to go with you.

 6                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  Duly noted.

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  It's just one of 

 8          the sites.  

 9                 So I was reading -- so again, we're 

10          behind, apparently, on a number of things 

11          we hoped to do here, I understand that.  

12          But I was reading a story line that some 

13          states are using drones to do the 

14          evaluations of risk on their bridges, so 

15          that when you need to track conditions of 

16          risk for priority in getting your people 

17          out there to make the fixes, that drones 

18          can be very effective in actually taking 

19          the pictures and bringing that back to you, 

20          rather than having people having to go out 

21          and look through every nook and cranny and 

22          climb under bridges and to the tops of 

23          bridges.  

24                 I'm just curious, has New York 

                                                                  325

 1          looked at this?  Because Minnesota, which 

 2          apparently has more bridges than any other 

 3          state in the country, has been using these 

 4          very effectively.

 5                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  We use a 

 6          variety of techniques for bridge 

 7          inspection.  And the state has a group of 

 8          departments and agencies that are taking a 

 9          look at a consolidated effort, if you will, 

10          use of drones.  On occasion, the department 

11          will use them.  

12                 I do not know if we're using them 

13          for detailed bridge -- individual bridge 

14          inspections.  However, with regard to your 

15          comment about not using manual labor, if 

16          you will, we use more and more gauging, 

17          remote gauging, measuring the stresses and 

18          using that to monitor conditions of 

19          bridges.

20                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And my last quick 

21          one is following up on Senator Savino's 

22          points.  

23                 So the state is using design-build 

24          on a number of projects, and in fact we 

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 1          were testifying -- excuse me, labor was 

 2          testifying yesterday how in upstate they're 

 3          not happy about it.  The City of New York 

 4          has been asking for permission to use 

 5          design-build for two major transportation 

 6          projects for years, actually with the 

 7          support of the labor unions in New York 

 8          City for these projects.  

 9                 Why can we approve them for your 

10          projects and not for the projects that 

11          might be literally side by side with your 

12          projects in the City of New York?  

13                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Well, 

14          the department does use design-build, as 

15          you stated.  The Governor is in support of 

16          design-build throughout the state.  And 

17          whether or not it is being -- the issue of 

18          design-build in New York City is something 

19          that needs discussion between the Executive 

20          and the legislative branch.  But the 

21          Governor is in support of design-build, 

22          yes.

23                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I don't think he 

24          put it in this year for the City of 

                                                                  327

 1          New York's projects, just FYI.  

 2                 I'm over time, so thank you.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

 4          Simon.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN SIMON:  Thank you, and 

 6          congratulations.  

 7                 I do want to follow up on some prior 

 8          questions with regard to the BQE and 

 9          Gowanus Expressway and the triple 

10          cantilever, which as Senator Savino has 

11          indicated are really part of a whole.  And 

12          there is a great deal of confusion as to 

13          which piece of that roadway belongs to 

14          whom.  And further made confusing in my 

15          neck of the woods by the fact that the 

16          state led a very robust community 

17          engagement around replacing the triple 

18          cantilever and then somehow or other 

19          decided it wasn't the state's property and 

20          now it's the city's.  So the city is now 

21          dealing with that issue, which is very 

22          concerning and at a stage of great 

23          disrepair that is somewhat frightening.

24                 So I have a question about the 

                                                                  328

 1          design-build.  I understand that the 

 2          Governor has not put it in his budget this 

 3          year.  He has indicated that they would 

 4          like design-build to be used by many other 

 5          entities, and including in the budget -- 

 6          they were talking about giving it to DASNY 

 7          and to other agencies, other entities of 

 8          the state government, but not to the City 

 9          of New York.  

10                 And I would like to know why that is 

11          the case, why that is not in the budget 

12          this year.  

13                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  

14          Assemblywoman, I have to defer on that 

15          question to the Department of Budget and 

16          also to the Executive.  

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN SIMON:  Well, I'll 

18          continue to be discussing this with the 

19          Executive's office.  

20                 It is a great concern and will 

21          affect other roadways, including those 

22          roadways that the state is working on if we 

23          have a disaster on the BQE.  The city 

24          estimates that by 2026, if it is not 

                                                                  329

 1          completely rehabilitated, that we will have 

 2          to ban trucks.  And in the downtown 

 3          Brooklyn area and throughout the entire 

 4          western Brooklyn corridor, down the Gowanus 

 5          into Staten Island, this will create havoc.  

 6                 And so it's a great concern to me 

 7          that the state is considering not using an 

 8          approach to procurement that it uses 

 9          extensively and that would save at least 

10          two years and over a billion dollars.  So I 

11          want to just register those concerns with 

12          you.

13                 The other thing I want to ask about 

14          is the Gowanus.  Besides the questions that 

15          Senator Savino asked, which I agree with 

16          her concerns completely, there was a 

17          proposal at one point for an elevated HOV 

18          lane.  And that is -- the last I've seen, 

19          there has not been any work done on it.  

20          And I wanted to know what, if anything, is 

21          being done at this juncture to move forward 

22          with that.

23                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  I don't 

24          know the history of that, and I don't know 

                                                                  330

 1          the status of that.  I'll get an answer to 

 2          you.

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN SIMON:  I would like 

 4          to know, because one of the things that 

 5          we've been working on for twenty years is 

 6          getting rid of the Gowanus Expressway and 

 7          making a tunnel.  And one of the concerns 

 8          we have is of course the stability of that 

 9          roadway long-term, and an elevated HOV lane 

10          could end up being just as compromising.  

11          So I'm quite concerned about that, and I'd 

12          like to know.

13                 Thank you.  

14                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  We'll 

15          get an answer to you.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

17                 Commissioner, I just had a couple of 

18          follow-up questions, if you're okay with 

19          that.  

20                 But you mentioned and some of the 

21          members mentioned design-build.  Can you 

22          give us some examples of design-build 

23          projects that DOT has undertaken.

24                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  I can.  

                                                                  331

 1          I can provide a full list to you.  Right 

 2          now, there is a pending project, it's being 

 3          advertised for procurement, the Nassau 

 4          Expressway, which we mentioned earlier.  A 

 5          very large one, the K Bridge, Kosciuszko 

 6          Bridge, half of it's design-build.  There 

 7          are a number of projects outside of 

 8          Rochester, interstate projects.  The 

 9          Rochester Train Station was a design-build 

10          project.  To date we've had 31 projects.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thirty-one, okay.

12                 Has the agency documented any of the 

13          savings that go along with design-build?  

14          Do you issue any kind of report, or is 

15          there any accounting of it?

16                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  It's my 

17          understanding a report was issued last 

18          year.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  Is there 

20          an updated one that's coming out?  

21                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  I don't 

22          know.  I'll find out and provide an answer 

23          to you.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, thank you.

                                                                  332

 1                 I wanted to just ask quickly about 

 2          the "I Love New York" signs because I drive 

 3          past them all the time, and I know that DOT 

 4          was having a dispute with the federal 

 5          government about that.  Where are you at in 

 6          resolving that disagreement?  And the 

 7          federal government has threatened to 

 8          withhold funding from the state, so could 

 9          you please address that?

10                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  There 

11          have been no penalties, no funding has been 

12          withheld.  We are continuing to have a 

13          dialogue with the Federal Highway 

14          Administration about those signs.  We think 

15          the outcome will be beneficial, but the 

16          dialogue continues.  No penalties, no 

17          funding withheld.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Have they 

19          indicated when those would be wrapped up?

20                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  I do 

21          not.

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  Okay.  

23          Well, thank you.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

                                                                  333

 1          Byrne.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN BYRNE:  Thank you, 

 3          Chairwoman.  

 4                 And let me echo my congratulations 

 5          to you, Commissioner.

 6                 Like my colleague Assemblyman 

 7          Buchwald, my issue is a little bit closer 

 8          towards local, specific to Region 8.  And I 

 9          do think the more communication we get from 

10          our officials in the DOT, the better.  You 

11          know, communication with our state reps, 

12          myself, our Senator that I share my 

13          district with, as well as our town 

14          officials.  And sorry to say, but that's 

15          been somewhat inconsistent since I've been 

16          in this position.

17                 There has been some pluses.  I know 

18          had some projects along 6N.  And we were 

19          able to bring in some representatives from 

20          the DOT, and I appreciate that, to work on 

21          some local issues there.  But again, it's 

22          been inconsistent and we've had some delays 

23          that I'd like you to speak to.  And just so 

24          I can try to stick to a time frame here, I 

                                                                  334

 1          want to try to wrap this up first, just so 

 2          you can get some context why so many people 

 3          in my district are upset about this.  

 4                 On July 6th of last year, the 

 5          Governor's office issued a press release 

 6          announcing that more than $103 million were 

 7          to pave, you know, like 200 miles of road 

 8          across the mid-Hudson Valley.  Okay?  In 

 9          that project -- and in the press release, 

10          it said the project will be completed "this 

11          year," so that's in 2017.  Some of them 

12          have been completed, some have not been.  

13          One that a lot of the people I represent 

14          were very excited about was on Route 6, a 

15          state road that travels right through the 

16          hamlet of Carmel.  It goes to the only 

17          hospital in Putnam County, Putnam County 

18          Hospital.  It's a main thoroughfare to get 

19          to the interstate, I-84, which people 

20          travel to and from the State of 

21          Connecticut.  So people travel on this road 

22          regularly, and it is in deep, deep 

23          disrepair.  The town supervisor I spoke 

24          with this morning, he told me that it's 

                                                                  335

 1          repeatedly being treated with Band-Aids 

 2          when it is really a deep, deep wound.  This 

 3          needs serious attention.  

 4                 When we looked at the website that 

 5          you referenced earlier, we didn't get any 

 6          communication about a delay, so we wrote a 

 7          letter, myself and Senator Terence Murphy.  

 8          And to be fair, Commissioner, I don't think 

 9          you were the commissioner at the time.  I 

10          have not seen a response yet.  And what 

11          we've seen on the website is that it's been 

12          now delayed to 2018 and potentially 2019.

13                 So the people of Putnam County that 

14          use this roadway are expecting to use this 

15          this year.  The people that are in the 

16          commercial districts in Putnam Plaza, you 

17          know, they look at the condition of the 

18          roads.  So this is really important to my 

19          district.  Just so you get a -- and I'll 

20          give this to you after the hearing if you'd 

21          like -- this is the status of the road 

22          right now, covered in potholes.  We've 

23          heard about it before, and the attention 

24          that we need to help our local roads.  This 

                                                                  336

 1          is a state road.  Okay?  

 2                 I also want to say, although it 

 3          wasn't in that press release, Route 52 

 4          right there, right on Lake Gleneida, that's 

 5          another area that needs some real serious 

 6          attention -- not patchwork, we need 

 7          repaving.  And I know many of my colleagues 

 8          commute up here from the city.  I take the 

 9          Taconic.  Okay?  The Taconic State Parkway 

10          got some needed attention.  That was on 

11          time, down to Hortontown Road, but then it 

12          stopped.  

13                 One of the most dangerous spots on 

14          the Taconic State Parkway is in my 

15          district, right in Putnam Valley and in 

16          Carmel, where you're going from Route 6 to 

17          I-84.  You have a giant retaining wall, and 

18          then on the southbound lane you have 

19          this -- basically, it's like a cliff.  

20          There's rarely any like shoulders to pull 

21          off of.  So it's very important that we 

22          have these roadways treated and they're 

23          safe.

24                 I have a newspaper article from the 

                                                                  337

 1          Putnam County News & Recorder from just 

 2          about a week and a half ago.  We had over 

 3          20 people had to get towed off the Taconic 

 4          State Parkway because of flats because of 

 5          potholes on the TSP.  So I'd like you to 

 6          speak about that, if there's any 

 7          opportunities to address that.  I think 

 8          it's a very pressing concern.  It's not 

 9          just traveled by people in my district, but 

10          it's important because I want people to 

11          stop and shop in Putnam County and in 

12          Westchester, that's obviously important.  

13                 And if you could touch on the status 

14          of the Pudding Street interchange, which is 

15          very important, that goes over the Taconic 

16          State Parkway.  I know Senator Sue Serino 

17          has worked on securing funds.  That's not 

18          slated till about 2019-2020.  I want to 

19          make sure that stays on track.  

20                 And if you could speak to those 

21          specific issues, I would be grateful.  

22          Thank you.  

23                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  I will, 

24          and we will get back to you on each of 

                                                                  338

 1          those issues that you brought up.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN BYRNE:  Okay.  Could you 

 3          speak to the point that -- why the delay on 

 4          Route 6, specifically?  For folks to read 

 5          this in the newspaper, being told by the 

 6          executive branch and then our 

 7          representatives at DOT and everyone that 

 8          this is going to happen, and then -- that's 

 9          in the summer of this past year, and then 

10          it doesn't happen, and now we're going 

11          through a tough winter, you know, what are 

12          we supposed to tell them?  

13                 It's -- I appreciate your 

14          willingness to get back to me, and we can 

15          certainly talk more about it offline.  But 

16          that's something that once the state makes 

17          a commitment, they need to know that our 

18          word is good.  Thank you.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

20                 Senator Kennedy.

21                 (Discussion off the record.)

22                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  Commissioner, 

23          thank you again.  Just a brief follow-up 

24          from my conversation with you earlier 

                                                                  339

 1          regarding the NFTA and the upcoming capital 

 2          projects plan you're putting together.  

 3                 There's talk of a five-year capital 

 4          projects plan happening throughout the 

 5          state in various ways.  What I would ask 

 6          you is to make the NFTA and their capital 

 7          needs a priority.  The investment that was 

 8          initially made into the light rail system 

 9          in Buffalo is now over 30 years ago.  In 

10          many different ways, it's in desperate need 

11          of strong, robust capital investment.  

12                 And so as I already mentioned, about 

13          $100 million over five years is what they 

14          really need to get it to the level that is 

15          necessary just to provide basic 

16          transportation needs in our community.  

17                 At the same time, I'd like you to 

18          make a trip up to Buffalo and see 

19          firsthand, meet with us, talk with us 

20          firsthand.  I recognize that this is a new 

21          position for you.  We had a tremendous 

22          relationship with your predecessor, and his 

23          leadership was on the ground.  And we were 

24          able to communicate regularly about these 

                                                                  340

 1          sort of issues.  

 2                 So I think it's important that we 

 3          try to maintain that level of communication 

 4          as much as possible.  But in order for you 

 5          to see really the needs and understand the 

 6          needs on a personal level, but also to then 

 7          translate that into budgetary priorities, I 

 8          would ask you to, one, commit to coming to 

 9          Buffalo in the very near future, but most 

10          importantly, making a five-year capital 

11          projects need assessment and ultimately 

12          delivering on those needs to the NFTA a top 

13          priority.

14                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Thank 

15          you, Senator.  And I am new, a couple of 

16          months plus, but I have been to Buffalo 

17          three times so far since I've been in the 

18          position, and I'm aware of the projects 

19          there.  Probably not all of them.  But I 

20          will be back, and we'll give all those 

21          items consideration, full consideration.

22                 Thank you.

23                 SENATOR KENNEDY:  Thank you.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

                                                                  341

 1          Ortiz.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Thank you, Madam 

 3          Chairman.  

 4                 And Commissioner, congratulations 

 5          and welcome to the new challenges ahead of 

 6          you.

 7                 I too would like to echo Senator 

 8          Savino and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon to 

 9          invite you to come to our districts.  I am 

10          the ham of the sandwich.  I am the ham of 

11          the sandwich.  So I have Senator Savino on 

12          my right, Assemblywoman Simon on my left, 

13          so the whole Gowanus-BQE is really in the 

14          heart of Sunset Park.  

15                 And I would like to address a couple 

16          of issues.  When I wake up in the morning 

17          at 5 a.m., the first thing I do is I put on 

18          1010 WINS.  And this is a free commercial 

19          for 1010 WINS at this point.  The first 

20          thing I hear is "Do not take the BQE, it's 

21          jammed."  So people go through Third 

22          Avenue, people go through Fourth Avenue, 

23          now people are moving through Fifth Avenue 

24          in Sunset Park.  Now they're finding out 

                                                                  342

 1          that there's a loop on 82nd and 67th Street 

 2          from Hamilton Parkway, that they can go 

 3          through the other side, go through the back 

 4          of the Greenwood Cemetery, and it's really 

 5          creating now a real difficult time for the 

 6          residents of Sunset Park and the people of 

 7          the area of Park Slope as well, and 

 8          Red Hook.

 9                 Now, saying that -- and I was saying 

10          before we do have a serious issue with the 

11          BQE and Gowanus.  And we have, I have three 

12          schools next to the BQE, one on 60th 

13          Street, one on 47th Street, and one on 

14          Henry Street.  These three schools, they 

15          get all the fumes that is coming out of all 

16          these vehicles for many, many years.  Right 

17          now there's a major reconstruction going on 

18          regarding removing the painting that is on 

19          this BQE and this highway.  As they're 

20          removing this painting, one of the biggest 

21          challenges that we have is that we have 

22          people that live below Third Avenue and 

23          above Fourth Avenue right in the corridor 

24          of the BQE.  

                                                                  343

 1                 Now, all these sediments and air 

 2          pollution, if you will, go up through the 

 3          air and people have been complaining to me 

 4          that they even get to their -- they're 

 5          inside their houses because they live next 

 6          to it.  

 7                 So besides that, besides that, I 

 8          have been calling for air quality monitors 

 9          to be put in the Gowanus Expressway to -- 

10          really to monitor the air quality that is 

11          coming out and what are the bacterias or 

12          whatever it is coming out of these -- 

13          what's going on on the Gowanus Expressway.  

14                 Secondly, I would like to say that 

15          the area of Sunset Park, especially those 

16          schools, if you go to those schools and you 

17          ask the question what is the absentee rate 

18          of the schools, it's higher than any other 

19          school that is probably Fourth Avenue up 

20          Sunset Park.  And this is as a result of 

21          all this pollution.

22                 So I would love to suggest and make 

23          you look like a champion and give you an 

24          idea -- I always come with good ideas -- 

                                                                  344

 1          I'm going to try to make you a champion.  

 2          If you can come and work with your 

 3          agencies, there has to be a partnership 

 4          together, a collaboration effort, to put 

 5          some air quality monitoring on the Gowanus 

 6          and then give us the results, give us the 

 7          answer, and also give us a plan of action 

 8          on how these agencies will work together in 

 9          order to address these particular needs 

10          that is affecting my community and it has 

11          been affecting my community for many years.  

12          That's number one.

13                 Number two, talking about who is 

14          responsible and who has the jurisdiction, I 

15          know that jurisdiction on some areas is 

16          New York City and New York State.  We do 

17          have also a big issue, and I addressed this 

18          with some of your folks who have been super 

19          helpful to address this issue as well.  

20          Okay?  But it's a continuous issue that is 

21          happening under the Gowanus, and it's that 

22          we have light, we have new development, new 

23          businesses building in the area of Sunset 

24          Park, Industry City, and the lighting that 

                                                                  345

 1          is underneath blew up all the time.  So we 

 2          don't have no lights.  The lights go off.  

 3          And I know there's a contract between DOT 

 4          and New York City and New York City and DOT 

 5          is responsible to fix those lights.  So I 

 6          would love to make sure that both of your 

 7          agencies will work together to monitor that 

 8          every time that that happens, I don't need 

 9          to continuously get phone calls or me going 

10          around the neighborhood to check on every 

11          single light, because probably I will be 

12          the worst person to change those lights.  

13                 But the bottom line is that there 

14          should be some kind of consistency while 

15          these people are working to fix those 

16          lights.  And it's very dangerous, it's very 

17          dark.  Because you have NYU Medical Center 

18          on 55th Street, and now they're building 

19          more and there's more jobs on the other 

20          side of the BQE, and those people have to 

21          walk to Fourth Avenue to the subway 

22          station, those who are not taking the bus 

23          at that point.

24                 So I would encourage you to -- and 

                                                                  346

 1          again, I would like to make you a champion 

 2          and I would like to be part of this 

 3          discussion to work with other agencies that 

 4          are -- probably have the jurisdiction to 

 5          put the air quality measures in this 

 6          Gowanus and give us answers about that.

 7                 The last thing I would like to 

 8          suggest is that the mayor is proposing to 

 9          build his Brooklyn-Queens connector street.  

10          And you know we have -- we're doing 

11          rehabilitation in the BQE.  Can these two 

12          projects take place at the same time?  Can 

13          these two projects be taking place at the 

14          same time, where we're doing the BQE 

15          rehabilitation plus the mayor is trying to 

16          push for this connector?

17                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  We would 

18          coordinate with the city to make sure that 

19          no, they were not going on at the same 

20          time, if possible.  

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  And you have 

22          been having conversations with the city 

23          about this connector, the City of New York 

24          has reached out to the state to make 

                                                                  347

 1          sure --

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Excuse me --

 3                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  We talk with the 

 4          city all the time.  And we're actually 

 5          going to be meeting with them very shortly, 

 6          so we'll make sure to bring this up.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Because I think 

 8          we'll be --

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Mr. Ortiz, 

10          can --

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  To finalize, 

12          then, Madam chairman, if you'll allow me 

13          one quick second, just to finalize, I just 

14          want to say that I would like to work with 

15          you to make you a champion.  Thank you.

16                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  

17          Assemblyman, the issues you mention, first 

18          of all, I need to determine the 

19          jurisdiction there, if you don't mind.  And 

20          that will be done right away.  

21                 However, both the lighting issue and 

22          the painting issue have to do with safety 

23          and health, and those are very important to 

24          us.  I think I can speak for New York City 

                                                                  348

 1          too, and their department.  But they're 

 2          very important, they're paramount.  And 

 3          with regard to the painting, OSHA standards 

 4          are applied and we spec steel with those 

 5          things.  But again, they get back to safety 

 6          and health, and that's the focus of ours.  

 7          That's job one.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Well, I'm 

 9          looking forward to working with you.  I 

10          hope that we can develop a partnership to 

11          bring the agencies together to really do 

12          the air quality measurement that is needed.  

13          Thank you, sir.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

15          Otis.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Hello, 

17          Commissioner.  Congratulations.  And also 

18          congratulations to Todd Westhuis for his 

19          great help with us.  

20                 And I think where I wanted to start 

21          off was to thank the Governor and to thank 

22          DOT for, in the last year and a half or so, 

23          new policies on pedestrian safety.  And DOT 

24          has taken a shift, put out a report that 

                                                                  349

 1          was very well received to support more 

 2          innovative, creative efforts at pedestrian 

 3          safety efforts around the state.  

 4                 And Region 8 is working very close 

 5          with my office on -- we had one very 

 6          successful project in Mamaroneck, where DOT 

 7          was tremendously helpful.  We're working on 

 8          something else around a school in Port 

 9          Chester.  

10                 So I guess my first question is I'm 

11          assuming that that is working well all 

12          around the state, the new sort of safe 

13          routes to schools and pedestrian safety 

14          innovations.

15                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  I think 

16          you're referring to the Pedestrian Safety 

17          Action Plan?  

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Yeah, yeah.  

19          Great document.

20                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Yes, it 

21          is.  It's a statewide effort.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Great.  That's 

23          wonderful.

24                 Two other brief things.  

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 1                 On the broadband issue, on behalf of 

 2          local governments I would just like to toss 

 3          in a consideration that is important, which 

 4          is many local governments have their own 

 5          wireless siting local policies, local laws 

 6          and other land use policies.  And it has 

 7          always been my position that state 

 8          agencies -- and it's not always DOT, other 

 9          agencies -- get involved in this as well, 

10          work with local governments, try and be 

11          respectful of local policy and siting 

12          preferences and things like that.  

13                 Very important with the new 

14          initiative that has been mentioned today, 

15          that I would ask that that be sort of the 

16          general operating procedure.  And you know, 

17          again, with our regional office, always 

18          good cooperation on everything, so I think 

19          that shouldn't be too hard, but throw that 

20          out there and ask for your help.

21                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Okay.  

22          And with regard to fiber, do you have a 

23          anything to add?

24                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  I have nothing 

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 1          else to add.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  I'm sorry?  

 3                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Nothing 

 4          else to add.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Okay, very good.  

 6                 And then Assemblywoman Paulin 

 7          mentioned the ongoing sort of series of due 

 8          diligence reviews that are going on 

 9          regarding some sort of Long Island Sound 

10          crossing.  And so as part of that 

11          process -- and I've had this communication 

12          with DOT in the past, this is sort of just 

13          to follow up on Assemblywoman Paulin.  But 

14          the most important issue that really is 

15          going to have to get crunched are the 

16          traffic impacts in Westchester County.  And 

17          in looking at the State DOT traffic 

18          statistics on the 287 and I-95 corridors, 

19          traffic volumes have gone up in the last 10 

20          or 15 years significantly.  And so as 

21          you're going through the other aspects of 

22          due diligence, I look forward to continuing 

23          to work with you to make sure that the 

24          traffic numbers get crunched, because they 

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 1          are going to be pivotal in terms of what is 

 2          feasible or not feasible, and so ask for 

 3          continued help on that front.

 4                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  And 

 5          those assessments will be part of the due 

 6          diligence with regard to financial and 

 7          operating impacts, but certainly, 

 8          importantly, environmental impacts and 

 9          benefits on both ends.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  So look forward 

11          to meeting on these topics.  And thank you 

12          very much.

13                 Thank you, Madam Chair.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

15                 Assemblyman Steck. 

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN STECK:  My question 

17          concerns the Exit 4 on the Northway, which 

18          my understanding is that the improvements 

19          to that have been postponed.  Is that the 

20          case?  And what would the reason for that 

21          be?

22                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  

23          Assemblyman, it has not been postponed.  

24          The precise date, I can get back to you.  

                                                                  353

 1          But I do know it's going forward as it was 

 2          planned.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN STECK:  Well, I do want 

 4          to say that in my experience in this 

 5          position that your agency has been one of 

 6          the most responsive, if not the most 

 7          responsive, and to which your regional 

 8          director, Sam Zhou, deserves a tremendous 

 9          amount of credit.  

10                 And I'm quite sure that if we had 

11          more ways of raising revenue, you guys 

12          could do a lot more things.  But thank you 

13          for your work.

14                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Thank 

15          you.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Mr. Skoufis 

17          for a quick question.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN SKOUFIS:  Thank you, 

19          Madam Chair.  

20                 And I apologize for coming back, I 

21          wasn't expecting to, for a second round.  

22          But I'll be brief.  It's prompted by the 

23          line of questioning that you had, 

24          Commissioner, with my colleague Assemblyman 

                                                                  354

 1          Buchwald.  

 2                 And I preface this by saying, and I 

 3          do every year, that your Region 8 team is 

 4          exemplary.  I have an excellent working 

 5          relationship with all of them and look 

 6          forward to continuing that relationship.

 7                 That said, I just got done picking 

 8          my jaw up off from the floor learning that 

 9          we no longer have Todd Westhuis as our 

10          regional director.  I'm hearing this for 

11          the first time.  I think in just speaking 

12          with my colleagues sort of offline here, I 

13          think we're all hearing about this for the 

14          first time, and we're hearing about it by 

15          chance of a question at a budget hearing.  

16                 When were we going to be told about 

17          this?  When did this change happen?  Do you 

18          think it's appropriate that we just found 

19          out about this really by chance, in a line 

20          of questioning here?  Todd is wonderful, 

21          and I think he's going to be an asset, a 

22          wonderful asset to you.  And I happen to 

23          know Lance MacMillan, who I guess is the 

24          new acting regional director, and he too is 

                                                                  355

 1          a true professional.  But this seems like a 

 2          total breakdown in communication.  

 3                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  

 4          Assemblyman, we did issue an announcement.  

 5          It was internal, to the department.  And if 

 6          that caused any discomfort on anybody's 

 7          part, we apologize for that.  

 8                 But I suppose the good news is that 

 9          when a very good person is absent and the 

10          reaction is like that, it indicates the 

11          quality of some of the personnel at DOT.  

12          We apologize for not letting you and others 

13          know about that, and we need to correct 

14          that.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN SKOUFIS:  Okay.  Well, I 

16          appreciate that.  And I do hope that there 

17          is an added focus to better communicating 

18          with us legislators when there is a 

19          significant personnel shift like that.  I 

20          think, at least speaking for myself, I 

21          communicate with DOT more than any other 

22          state agency, and to just, again, by chance 

23          learn about a major shift like that is 

24          concerning.  So I appreciate a renewed 

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 1          effort there.  Thank you.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  And our final 

 3          questioner, Assemblywoman Hunter.

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HUNTER:  Thank you, 

 5          Chairwoman.  

 6                 Commissioner, congratulations.  I 

 7          actually took time to read your bio and was 

 8          very impressed with your background and 

 9          experience.  You have big shoes to fill 

10          with the prior commissioner, but I'm 

11          looking forward to having many 

12          conversations with you.

13                 I live in the Syracuse area, so I'm 

14          sure that you are apprised of the huge 

15          issue that we have with the major 

16          interstate running through, which is 

17          Interstate 81.  But I don't want to talk 

18          about that today, but I will be coming back 

19          to talk to you about that in very short 

20          order.

21                 When we have conversations about 

22          transportation -- especially we took, you 

23          know, four hours talking about MTA, which 

24          is obviously very, very important.  And 

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 1          that's talking about moving people around.  

 2          We rarely have those conversations in 

 3          Central New York.  

 4                 And in the Executive Budget, he had 

 5          laid out kind of economic growth for the 

 6          state, and obviously New York City had the 

 7          most economic growth.  And the least growth 

 8          in the entire state is in Central New York.  

 9                 And in your testimony you had made 

10          mention in your conclusion about the DOT 

11          continuing to serve as a catalyst for job 

12          creation and global economic 

13          competitiveness.  And I want to be able to 

14          get from you -- and obviously New York is a 

15          large state.  And I don't know if you've 

16          been to Syracuse yet, and hopefully you 

17          will.  And I would like to walk some of my 

18          district with you -- it's very diverse -- 

19          but get your thoughts on how you can 

20          incorporate that into our significant 

21          transportation issues in Syracuse, 

22          nonrelated to bridges and roads and 

23          airports.  

24                 You know, we have AIM money, which 

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 1          is never enough.  And hopefully, you know, 

 2          we'll be able to keep the level sustained 

 3          from last year.  But really it's having a 

 4          conversation, how do we get people who 

 5          don't have cars -- that's great if you fill 

 6          potholes, it's great if you fix bridges.  

 7          If you don't have a car, it doesn't make a 

 8          difference.  And we are woefully lacking in 

 9          public transportation.  The number-one 

10          thing I hear from employers in my district 

11          that have numerous job openings is that 

12          people can't get to work.  

13                 And so I wouldn't love to have the 

14          MTA problems, but I'd like to have an MTA 

15          to be able to get people to work.  So I'd 

16          like to be able to hear your thoughts about 

17          that.  

18                 But today, I'd like to pick your 

19          brain about the New NY Broadband 

20          Infrastructure Program.  So can you tell me 

21          a little bit about how this is going to 

22          work?  I know in the Executive Budget that 

23          there's monies that's supposed to be 

24          collected -- obviously we're in a 

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 1          deficit -- from I guess organizations that 

 2          are supposed to be now paying right-of-way 

 3          fees.  

 4                 And I'm concerned that in charging 

 5          organizations, that potentially that's 

 6          going to come back to a consumer.  And then 

 7          also want to -- and that's a huge issue, 

 8          not only just, obviously, throughout the 

 9          state, but in Central New York, as you get 

10          to more rural areas, people don't have 

11          internet.  And I think people think it's a 

12          privilege, but people need it to get their 

13          homework for their kids, they need it 

14          for -- they go to the library and park in 

15          the parking lot just to get on the wifi.  

16          So this is a significant issue.

17                 And I wanted to know, based on this 

18          new program, if there's going to be a cost, 

19          obviously, to municipalities and if you 

20          could tell me a little bit about these 

21          small cell programs that would in some ways 

22          bypass our local ordinances.  So I don't 

23          know if you have information on that today, 

24          but I'd like to get some information about 

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 1          that from you.

 2                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Okay.  

 3          Assemblywoman, thank you.  I do not know 

 4          all the details of the New York Broadband 

 5          Initiative and what goes along with that.  

 6          However, with regard to the financing, 

 7          what's in Article VII, I would like to 

 8          defer to Ron, Ron Epstein.  

 9                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  Assemblywoman, how 

10          are you?  

11                 So I'm pretty confident, although I 

12          do need to confirm this, I'm pretty sure 

13          that they're preempted from passing along 

14          the cost to the consumer, as part of the 

15          Article VII legislation.  

16                 You know, I look at it this way.  

17          Your neighbor can't necessarily just do 

18          whatever they want to do in your front 

19          yard, they need your permission.  And this 

20          initiative, in terms of what's proposed in 

21          the budget, is essentially addressing the 

22          same issue.  People should just not be 

23          going in our right-of-way and doing things 

24          that we're not aware of.  We want to make 

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 1          sure they're done safely and that we're 

 2          protecting the public and that there's no 

 3          harm to our infrastructure.  And that's a 

 4          large part of what's going on here.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HUNTER:  Weren't these 

 6          same people having access to the 

 7          right-of-way already?

 8                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  So utilities have 

 9          certainly been in the right-of-way.  But 

10          there's been a whole host of new entities 

11          that are working with other companies to 

12          install fiber optic in the right-of-way 

13          that is just emerging, it's just exploding 

14          in terms of usage.  

15                 As I mentioned earlier, this does 

16          not impact the Governor's commitment to 

17          broadband or will impact -- the fees will 

18          not apply to the broadband initiative.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HUNTER:  Mm-hmm.  And 

20          the same goes to the small cell technology 

21          as well?

22                 DOT CFO EPSTEIN:  I'm not as 

23          familiar with the small cell technology.  

24                 I mean, again, siting towers in the 

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 1          right-of-way, there are certain 

 2          requirements that need to be met, and this 

 3          will ensure, through the permit process, 

 4          that they are.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HUNTER:  All right.  

 6          I'll get some more specific questions to 

 7          your office.  

 8                 Thank you, Commissioner.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

10          Thank you, Commissioner and Deputy 

11          Commissioner.  That is all the questions 

12          the panel has for you today.  Thank you for 

13          being here.

14                 ACTING COMMISSIONER KARAS:  Thank 

15          you.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Our next 

17          witness is the New York State Department of 

18          Motor Vehicles, Theresa Egan, executive 

19          deputy commissioner.  

20                 So feel free to begin.

21                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  I'd 

22          better hurry up and begin before there's no 

23          one else left here.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  There are 

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 1          other speakers after you.

 2                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  Good 

 3          afternoon.  Thank you, Chairperson 

 4          Weinstein and other members of the 

 5          Legislature, for inviting me here today.  

 6          I'm Terry Egan, the executive deputy 

 7          commissioner for the Department of Motor 

 8          Vehicles.  

 9                 Governor Cuomo's Executive Budget 

10          plan provides $362 million for DMV to 

11          support its main office in Albany, 27 

12          state-operated offices and 102 county- 

13          operated offices, and will enable us to 

14          continue our efforts to improve overall 

15          customer service, promote traffic safety, 

16          and protect consumers.  

17                 DMV will use the $18 million 

18          increase over the prior year’s funding and 

19          the 89 additional FTEs to accommodate more 

20          in-office customer visits as the result of 

21          increasing license renewal volumes, and 

22          additional in-office transactions resulting 

23          from our implementation of the federal 

24          Real ID Act.  Our average wait time in the 

                                                                  364

 1          state offices remains under 30 minutes, and 

 2          these additional funds and staff will allow 

 3          us to, at a minimum, maintain this critical 

 4          level of customer service.

 5                 As mentioned, DMV started issuing a 

 6          stand-alone Real ID-compliant document on 

 7          October 30th of 2017, and in the first two  

 8          months we have issued over 100,000 Real 

 9          ID-compliant licenses and ID cards.

10                 DMV continues to redesign and 

11          reengineer the website and mobile user 

12          experience, making it easier for customers 

13          to obtain information and complete 

14          transactions online.  Our website now 

15          receives more than 35 million visits a year 

16          and offers more than 60 online transactions 

17          and services.

18                 In 2017, customers performed more 

19          than 7.4 million internet transactions 

20          totaling over $560 million.  In addition, 

21          approximately 4 million New Yorkers are 

22          enrolled in our electronic registration 

23          program, saving the state more than 

24          $700,000 in postage annually. 

                                                                  365

 1                 Partnering with 14 state agencies 

 2          through the Governor’s Traffic Safety 

 3          Committee, DMV will continue its 

 4          outstanding work that has made New York’s 

 5          roadways among the safest in the nation. 

 6                 GTSC distributes more than 

 7          $33 million in federal funding annually to 

 8          support traffic safety initiatives 

 9          including enforcements by state and local 

10          law enforcement agencies to combat impaired 

11          driving, distracted driving, and other 

12          dangerous behaviors.

13                 In 2017, seat belt usage reached at 

14          an all-time high of 93 percent.  And 

15          New York State has become a national leader 

16          in an innovative program aimed at detecting 

17          drugged driving by training and certifying 

18          drug recognition experts across the state.  

19          As a result of these efforts and many 

20          others, fatality rates continue to drop. 

21          Preliminary statistics show a decrease in 

22          fatalities from 2016 to 2017 of almost 

23          10 percent here in this state, while the 

24          national trends show a significant 

                                                                  366

 1          increase.

 2                 Looking forward, DMV will continue 

 3          its commitment to improve traffic safety, 

 4          protect consumers, innovate and improve our 

 5          procedures, maintain a high level of 

 6          customer service, and provide convenient 

 7          options for our customers to complete their 

 8          transactions.  We remain strongly committed 

 9          to our core mission to serve the citizens 

10          of New York.

11                 Once again, thank you for this 

12          opportunity to speak with you today.  I 

13          welcome any questions you might have about 

14          DMV and our plans for serving the people of 

15          New York.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Mr. Oaks.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Hi, Commissioner.  

18          I just had a few questions.

19                 One of those relate to -- I know the 

20          Real ID compliance is out there, and 

21          New York State is yet, I think, to be 

22          there.  So could you just give us a sense 

23          of where we are with that?

24                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  Sure, 

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 1          Assemblyman.  New York has submitted a 

 2          compliance package to federal DHS.  It has 

 3          been there since the end of October.  We 

 4          are very confident that we will receive a 

 5          compliance designation shortly.  As I 

 6          indicated, we have actually started 

 7          implementing and issuing Real ID 

 8          stand-alone compliant documents.  

 9                 In the meantime, the federal 

10          government has issued an extension to 

11          New York that would go through October of 

12          2018.  However, we are very confident that 

13          we will get the full compliance designation 

14          shortly.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you.

16                 You mentioned the state saving 

17          dollars through some of our electronic 

18          usage in the department.  As technology 

19          continues, I know some states have put in 

20          or others are looking at the possibility of 

21          actually having an app.  We have people who 

22          pay their bills and do a number of 

23          compliance things when they go through the 

24          airport, et cetera, with their phones.  

                                                                  368

 1                 Are we looking at, at all, a 

 2          digitized opportunity for a license that 

 3          people would be able to use with their 

 4          personal phone?

 5                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  We 

 6          absolutely continue to explore all those 

 7          opportunities, Assemblyman.  In fact, just 

 8          yesterday we got another solicitation from 

 9          a vendor that's looking to do a pilot 

10          project.  Again, with certain resources 

11          available and not having an abundant set of 

12          those resources, we do continue to 

13          prioritize our IT efforts.  But it is 

14          certainly something that is on our plate to 

15          look at.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  I'd be happy to 

17          discuss -- we actually have a legislative 

18          proposal along that line, so I'd be happy 

19          to discuss that with you at some point.

20                 The other question I was going to 

21          ask was related to boat registrations and 

22          out-of-state individuals.  We have a lot of 

23          border individuals that end up -- if they 

24          live in another state but have a cottage, 

                                                                  369

 1          for instance, in New York or are staying 

 2          here, the question of whether to register 

 3          their boat here or in their home state.  

 4                 And at this point we require, I 

 5          think, six points of identification for 

 6          boats.  We require less for snowmobiles and 

 7          ATVs, for instance.  It's difficult 

 8          sometimes for out-of-state -- I think we 

 9          only give a couple points for the 

10          out-of-state license -- difficult to 

11          register here -- and then if you register 

12          in the home state, the sales tax -- you 

13          know, when you purchase the boat or 

14          whatever -- stays there, I think.  If you 

15          registered it here, maybe it would be here.

16                 So I just bring up that issue of 

17          consideration of perhaps trying to make it 

18          easier to have boats registered by 

19          out-of-state residents in New York so that 

20          we might reap the benefits from that as a 

21          state.

22                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  We'd be 

23          happy to take a look at that and also to 

24          talk with the Tax Department to see what we 

                                                                  370

 1          can do on the tax piece.  We'll take a look 

 2          at that.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you.

 4                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  Thank 

 5          you.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you very 

 7          much.

 8                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Senator Diane 

 9          Savino.

10                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Senator 

11          Krueger.

12                 I'm going to follow up on -- first 

13          of all, welcome -- follow up on what 

14          Assemblyman Oaks was just talking about.  

15          My colleagues and I in the Independent 

16          Democratic Conference for several years now 

17          have prepared a report and released it 

18          about the issue of New York residents who 

19          are registering and insuring their vehicles 

20          out-of-state in violation of the law and 

21          the effect that it has.  It's called rate 

22          evasion, insurance rate evasion, but 

23          there's other corresponding issues that are 

24          associated with that.  

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 1                 Vehicles that are not inspected in 

 2          New York State are not subject to the same 

 3          emissions control and other issues, and we 

 4          don't know whether they're safe vehicles on 

 5          the road.  We know that this practice 

 6          drives up insurance rates for New Yorkers, 

 7          and we have tried to focus on that.  

 8                 Is there a role that DMV can help us 

 9          play in cracking down on this?  Because 

10          there is a safety issue, there is the cost 

11          issue, there is the tax issue.

12                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  I 

13          absolutely understand the issue, and it's 

14          certainly not new to us.  We continue to 

15          follow that.  I'm not sure that there 

16          really is a role for us.  It certainly is 

17          law enforcement's role, and we're there to 

18          help support law enforcement with any data 

19          that we can provide to them.  But at this 

20          point -- certainly we'd be happy to join 

21          any conversation you would like to have on 

22          it to see if we can explore some 

23          opportunities.  But I'm not quite sure, 

24          with the structure that we have right now, 

                                                                  372

 1          that we play a part in that.

 2                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

 3                 Continuing on the issue of driver 

 4          safety, I know in the budget there is an 

 5          authorization that DMV can administer and 

 6          new driver's license applicants would be 

 7          able to take the five-hour training course 

 8          online, as opposed to in person.  I have 

 9          some concerns about that, because good 

10          driving habits have to be developed --

11                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  Sure.

12                 SENATOR SAVINO:  -- and the best way 

13          they're developed is through appropriate 

14          training, and I'm not sure -- you know, 

15          there's no way to determine if that's the 

16          person that's actually taking the five-hour 

17          online course because you can't see them 

18          and they can't see you.  I would be 

19          somewhat concerned about that.

20                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  Yeah, 

21          absolutely understand the concern, and we 

22          share that concern.  And if this is passed 

23          and we go through promulgating the 

24          regulations, validation, verification, 

                                                                  373

 1          identification is going to be one of the 

 2          very big pieces of that.

 3                 We do have experience with online 

 4          courses through the IPIRP program right 

 5          now.  We do have 11 sponsors that run the 

 6          Internet Point and Insurance Reduction 

 7          Program online, and they deal with 

 8          verification of identity already.  So we 

 9          would be looking to, again, build on that 

10          capability.

11                 We do think that there is benefit to 

12          doing the online course.  Certainly it's 

13          something we hear -- you know, our kids 

14          nowadays, everybody works off of a phone 

15          and online.  And this five-hour course 

16          isn't in-the-car training, it really is 

17          more of a classroom-type program.

18                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Right.  Right.

19                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  So we 

20          think if we can do this, we actually will 

21          get a benefit of having a more structured 

22          education piece.  We will have more control 

23          over what is being delivered and how it's 

24          being delivered.  

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 1                 But we absolutely understand that 

 2          that exact issue is one that we have, and 

 3          we think that we can capitalize on what 

 4          we've already learned from the IPIRP 

 5          program to make this a very solid program.

 6                 SENATOR SAVINO:  I still have some 

 7          concerns about it.  

 8                 And I know that also there's an 

 9          extension of the current authorization for 

10          autonomous vehicle testing.  It's 

11          interesting, I actually got the opportunity 

12          to ride in one of them last year when they 

13          were here, and I'm not sure if people 

14          really think -- these cars don't really 

15          drive themselves.  It's like super cruise 

16          control.  It doesn't work in a city 

17          setting, and you have to be prepared to 

18          drive the vehicle, you have to be prepared 

19          to take the wheel, and in fact it tells you  

20          when you have to take the wheel.  

21                 And so this part of the proposal, I 

22          know, requires that we repeal the section 

23          of the law that says you have to maintain 

24          one hand on the wheel because that's what 

                                                                  375

 1          gets in the way of driverless vehicles 

 2          anyway.  But a little bit of concern about 

 3          that, because right now people are doing 

 4          far too many things when they're driving 

 5          except holding onto the wheel.  

 6                 As you know, texting and driving has 

 7          become more problematic now than driving 

 8          under the influence, and in my opinion is 

 9          even more dangerous because, even if you're 

10          drunk, you're still looking at the road.  

11          When you're texting, you're not.  

12                 So I think we need to go down this 

13          road very carefully, and I would hope that 

14          your agency would look at the stats and the 

15          number of tickets that are being issued 

16          right now for distracted driving, 

17          particularly because people have their 

18          hands on something other than the wheel.

19                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  

20          Absolutely understood.  And again, the 

21          whole premise of the autonomous vehicle 

22          technology is that ultimately it is 

23          actually safer than you and I driving.  

24                 You know, NHTSA has run test after 

                                                                  376

 1          test, and over 94 percent of the crashes 

 2          have a human element as a causal factor in 

 3          these crashes.  So the idea is if you can 

 4          take that out with safe technology, going 

 5          forwards we really have an opportunity to 

 6          reduce fatalities on our highways.

 7                 Absolutely understood that we're not 

 8          ready to do it tomorrow.  Eventually, 

 9          though -- and again, we haven't seen it 

10          here in this state, but I know there are 

11          some other states where they do have 

12          vehicles operating without a driver in the 

13          seat.  We have a ways to go to get there.  

14                 The bill that's being proposed right 

15          now will not repeal the hand-off-the-wheel 

16          until 2020, so it gives us another couple 

17          of years to really do the demonstration 

18          projects between now and then to see, 

19          again, exactly that.  

20                 There's different levels of 

21          automation, some that require human 

22          intervention sooner than others, but 

23          hopefully that's what the experience we 

24          will get to see over the next couple of 

                                                                  377

 1          years.

 2                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

 3                 I just think people have this 

 4          impression that you're going to be able to 

 5          go out for dinner, get drunk, and have your 

 6          car drive you home.  That's not what these 

 7          cars are capable of doing.  So I think we 

 8          need to do a lot more education.

 9                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  There 

10          is -- I mean, there is a Level 5 vehicle 

11          that will actually do that, and it's being 

12          tested in very small areas right now.  But 

13          to your point, I think there's a lot we 

14          have to learn between now and then.

15                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

17          Hunter.

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HUNTER:  Thank you, 

19          Chairwoman.  

20                 Deputy Commissioner?

21                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  Sure, 

22          that works.

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HUNTER:  It's late.

24                 My question is relative to the TANF 

                                                                  378

 1          monies that the DMV gets -- I don't know if 

 2          you were here when I had asked the question 

 3          to the DOT commissioner relative to the 

 4          huge transportation issues we have in 

 5          Central New York.  You know, we don't have 

 6          ways for folks to get around, especially if 

 7          they don't have a car.

 8                 And one of the issues is relative to 

 9          people getting their license revoked if 

10          they are not paying their child support.  

11          And it was explained to me that someone 

12          could have a job and they can't retain 

13          their job because they can't get to work, 

14          but the DMV won't loosen up the restriction 

15          on that because of the TANF monies that you 

16          receive from the federal government.

17                 So my question is, how do my people 

18          get to work if they can't drive?

19                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  Well, 

20          again, I'm not sure it's TANF money.  I 

21          think there is -- legislation has passed 

22          for different things -- child support is 

23          one of them, failure to pay I think it's 

24          $10,000 or more of your taxes -- that 

                                                                  379

 1          requires us to suspend licenses until 

 2          certain things are paid.

 3                 We implement the legislation that's 

 4          passed.  In regard to licenses that have 

 5          been revoked or suspended as a result of 

 6          alcohol-impaired driving and things like 

 7          that, there are programs and different 

 8          opportunities for conditional licenses.  

 9                 For example, if there's a 

10          significant alcohol history that someone 

11          has lost their license for, there is a 

12          process where the agency will consider 

13          compelling unusual and extenuating 

14          circumstances in reissuing a license, 

15          possibly with an interlock.  

16                 I don't think that the Department of 

17          Motor Vehicles can help fix your intermodal 

18          MTA-type question --

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HUNTER:  No.

20                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  I was 

21          there for that question, and I absolutely 

22          understand it.  We have two kids that were 

23          in Syracuse for school and had wished for 

24          more public transportation.  But I'm not 

                                                                  380

 1          sure that we're in a position that can 

 2          really answer your question.

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HUNTER:  But it's not 

 4          related to federal monies coming for folks 

 5          who are in arrears in their child support 

 6          and -- no.

 7                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  No, 

 8          that is not something that affects us.  The 

 9          TANF money is not a reason.  I think there 

10          are other reasons, but that's not -- the 

11          TANF money is not it.

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HUNTER:  Okay.  Thank 

13          you.

14                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  You're 

15          welcome.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  How 

17          are you?

18                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  I'm 

19          great, how are you?

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I'm great, thank 

21          you.  Thank you for being here today, we 

22          truly appreciate it.  

23                 I had a question.  There's a 

24          5.3 percent more increase in the governor's 

                                                                  381

 1          budget proposal for DMV.  Could you address 

 2          that, please?

 3                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  Sure.  

 4          The request for the Department of Motor 

 5          Vehicles is for an increase in FTEs of 89 

 6          staff members, and it really is to address 

 7          a twofold issue.  The Department of Motor 

 8          Vehicles historically sees a four-year high 

 9          and a four-year low when it comes to 

10          license renewal volumes.  

11                 We are going into that high.  Where 

12          we normally see a little over a million 

13          people a year for license renewals, this 

14          year alone will be about 1.9 million, and 

15          we're looking at 2.3 million next year just 

16          on license renewal volumes.  

17                 Coupled with that is the 

18          implementation of the Real ID program.  We 

19          are trying to capitalize on the increased 

20          license renewal volume so that those extra 

21          numbers of people coming in now 

22          naturally -- we can try to get them a Real 

23          ID-compliant document so they don't have to 

24          come back to see us before October of 2020 

                                                                  382

 1          when the deadline is implemented.  And as a 

 2          result, that Real ID transaction requires 

 3          in-person -- they can't do it online.  It 

 4          is a much longer transaction because they 

 5          have to reproduce all of their original 

 6          documentation, and we have to scan it.  

 7                 So when you do all of that and you 

 8          project it out, in order to meet all of 

 9          those requirements and at the same time 

10          keep our customer service ideal of 

11          30 minutes or less in an office, it 

12          requires that additional people.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

14                 And I'm glad that you brought up the 

15          Real ID, because that was my next question.  

16          Could you give us a little bit more 

17          information as to how it's going, where are 

18          we at?

19                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  Yeah, 

20          I'm happy to report differently than where 

21          we were last year when we were here.

22                 It's going very well.  We've 

23          implemented, in addition to the EDL which 

24          is acceptable for Real ID purposes, and 

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 1          we've had now since 2008, we started 

 2          issuing a stand-alone Real ID document on 

 3          October 30th, at no additional cost above 

 4          the cost of the standard license.  And in 

 5          the first two months we have issued almost 

 6          110,000 Real ID-compliant documents.  

 7                 We are currently waiting -- a 

 8          compliance package has been submitted to 

 9          federal DHS, and we're awaiting final 

10          decision on a full compliance 

11          determination.  Right now they've extended 

12          our extension until October of '18, but 

13          we're very confident that we should receive 

14          that full compliance designation shortly.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So how many total 

16          need to, in your estimation, people need to 

17          switch over to the Real ID in this state?

18                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  How 

19          many people do?  We're projecting about 

20          11 million.  

21                 But it really is a personal choice.  

22          The rule as of October 20 is you have to 

23          either have a passport or you have to have 

24          a document that's Real ID-compliant, which 

                                                                  384

 1          can be the stand-alone Real ID or the EDL.

 2                 We've had different projections.  

 3          Truly it's been an interesting first couple 

 4          of months.  I know there was a lot of 

 5          concern from the legislators last year 

 6          about not having an extra cost for these 

 7          documents.  But as of right now, we're 

 8          finding people are actually opting for the 

 9          EDL, which has the legislative-mandated 

10          additional $30 cost to it.  

11                 So we're working through it.  And 

12          some people have said we just want a 

13          standard document, we don't want the 

14          Real ID or the EDL because we have a 

15          passport and we feel comfortable traveling 

16          with our passport.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So as people's 

18          license expire, is that when they find out 

19          about this?  Or is there some proactive way 

20          you reach them?

21                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  We are 

22          proactively -- we did a slow rollout 

23          starting in November.  Again, we wanted to 

24          make sure our staff was trained, the county 

                                                                  385

 1          clerks that also provide this service, we 

 2          wanted to make sure everyone was trained.  

 3                 We will be starting the beginning of 

 4          this year with a harder push.  We'll be 

 5          proactively speaking with people, with the 

 6          idea being we don't want them waiting until 

 7          September of 2020 to decide, jeez, we need 

 8          something by October.  But we will be 

 9          working towards getting as many people in 

10          as we can and again, as I referenced 

11          earlier, trying to capitalize on that 

12          naturally occurring increase, license 

13          renewal volume period that we're in right 

14          now.  I'm taking advantage of those 

15          additional people that are in here to do a 

16          renewal on their own by getting them 

17          educated so they can make that choice about 

18          getting a Real ID-compliant document.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

20                 Just one more question.  As you 

21          know, sometimes the county clerks are 

22          sensitive about the number of transactions 

23          that are processed online by DMV because, 

24          obviously, it takes away their local 

                                                                  386

 1          revenue generation, and they're focused on 

 2          customer service.  And so there have been 

 3          discussions in the past about that.  

 4                 Can you give us a sense of how many 

 5          transactions, approximately, DMV is 

 6          processing online?

 7                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  Sure.  

 8          Absolutely.

 9                 And again, our relationship with the 

10          county clerks has been very good.  We've 

11          been working very hard about keeping those 

12          avenues of communication open, particularly 

13          moving into this Real ID phase.  

14                 Right now the county clerks, as you 

15          know, provide DMV services in 102 offices 

16          across the state, and for that they receive 

17          a 12.7 percent legislative retention, if 

18          you will.  In 2010, though, recognizing 

19          that our push was really to get more 

20          transactions online, they naturally were 

21          concerned because it was taking 

22          transactions out of their office.  

23                 We worked with the clerks and with 

24          the association to come up with an 

                                                                  387

 1          agreement whereby they actually receive 

 2          funding for transactions that are done 

 3          online, so it's not costing them any work 

 4          but they get a percentage.  And right now 

 5          it's at 3.25 percent for any transactions 

 6          that are done online by their residents.  

 7          As a result of that, this year alone they 

 8          had revenue of over $47 million; 

 9          1.6 million of that or so is from that 

10          additional 3.25 percent.  

11                 We're projecting next year their 

12          revenue will be up over 50 -- with no 

13          legislative changes, will be up over 

14          $50 million, with over $2 million of 

15          retention from the web changes, and the 

16          year after that it goes up even more.  So 

17          their revenue, they are seeing an increase 

18          in the revenue.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  That's good to 

20          hear.  Thank you.

21                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  You're 

22          welcome.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Just a quick 

24          question to continue with the Real ID.  

                                                                  388

 1                 Someone has a driver's license that 

 2          has not yet -- is going to expire 

 3          post-2020, and they want to get a Real ID.  

 4          Can they do that, and what fees are 

 5          involved?

 6                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  

 7          Absolutely.  We encourage everyone -- one 

 8          of the things that we did on the website 

 9          was we created actually a tool that you can 

10          go onto our public website and indicate 

11          that you want to do a Real ID, and it will 

12          walk you through exactly what you need.  

13          And depending on when you're coming in -- 

14          it sounds to me like you're coming in 

15          off-site, but it would depend on -- the fee 

16          would depend on when you were coming in, 

17          how close you were to the actual expiration 

18          of your date.  But it is at a cost no more 

19          than it would be as if it would be a 

20          standard license.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  I guess what 

22          I'm saying is if you still have several 

23          years left on your license, and you get a 

24          Real ID, do you get some credit --

                                                                  389

 1                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  Credit.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  -- for the -- 

 3          getting it earlier.

 4                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  

 5          Depending on -- and there's rules about how 

 6          close you are to your expiration when you 

 7          get credit.  And if you got a new one, that 

 8          would add another year on.  There's some 

 9          rules that go on with that, but we do take 

10          into account if you are coming in and you 

11          have time left on your other license, we 

12          will manage to credit that so you're not 

13          paying twice for something.  

14                 And we are encouraging people -- 

15          your regular, standard, plain old license 

16          today will allow you to fly until October 

17          of 2020, but we are encouraging people to 

18          not wait until the last minute to come in 

19          to get a Real ID-compliant document.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  And I have a 

21          district that has a large senior 

22          population.  If people aren't interested -- 

23          many of them still have driver's licenses, 

24          and luckily not a lot of them are driving 

                                                                  390

 1          with those driver's licenses --

 2                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  That's 

 3          another subject.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  But if 

 5          someone wants to trade in their license for 

 6          a non-driver ID, they can still do that 

 7          without having to get a Real ID and go and 

 8          visit a DMV office, which is difficult?

 9                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  They 

10          can.  If they do not want a Real ID or an 

11          EDL, we can still accommodate that without 

12          an office visit.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

14                 And we've been joined by Assemblyman 

15          McDonald.

16                 No questions to you, so thank you so 

17          much for --

18                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  Thank 

19          you, Chairwoman.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator Krueger.

21                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Hi.  Good 

22          afternoon.

23                 So the Governor's budget proposes 

24          requiring back-seat seat belts -- thank 

                                                                  391

 1          you.  I'm sorry, the words escaped me.  But 

 2          it's not clear, is that for taxis, limos, 

 3          Ubers, Lyfts, or just private cars?

 4                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  We 

 5          would propose it would be an across-the- 

 6          board back-seat seat belt requirement.

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And so you will 

 8          have -- it will be a mandate on the police 

 9          to stop vehicles specifically for seat 

10          belts?  Or it's only if they're stopping 

11          them for something else?

12                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  No, it 

13          would be a primary offense.

14                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Okay.

15                 I want to jump to autonomous vehicle 

16          testing.  I think Senator Savino had some 

17          questions -- so we've had the program 

18          allowing tests to be performed since last 

19          year's budget.  How many tests have been 

20          performed?  What have we learned?

21                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  We have 

22          had two.  We had one in June by Audi, one 

23          in September by Cadillac.  I had an 

24          opportunity -- I'm guessing Senator Savino 

                                                                  392

 1          was in the one in New York City, I was in 

 2          the one upstate.  Oh, you did do this one.  

 3          Okay.

 4                 It was interesting to be able to do 

 5          it.  They operated safely, the demos that I 

 6          was in did exactly what they were supposed 

 7          to do.  It was hands-free with a driver 

 8          behind the wheel.  We happened to hit a 

 9          road zone over on I-90 that was unplanned, 

10          and the car operated exactly as it should.  

11          Notices came on that said "Driver needs to 

12          reengage."  

13                 So at this point we've received some 

14          information.  With the Governor's proposal 

15          to extend the April 2018 to April 2020, we 

16          hope to gain even more information.  We 

17          have heard that there are more applicants 

18          coming in the spring.  We have not gotten 

19          those yet, but we look forward to getting 

20          them and getting even more information.

21                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So I'm a little 

22          confused.  When you say there are two, so 

23          there were like 300 in one and 300 in 

24          another, or like one day, one car?  What 

                                                                  393

 1          are we talking about?

 2                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  The 

 3          Cadillac was -- the September one was down 

 4          in the city, and it was part of a 

 5          multistate AV demo.  They actually drove 

 6          through New York, there were -- I forget 

 7          whether it was six or seven cars in the 

 8          city, and then they progressed actually 

 9          through other states and went to DC.  

10                 And the demo in June was up here in 

11          the Albany area, and it was one car, 

12          several trips.

13                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So these are 

14          incredibly small little demonstrations, not 

15          actual pilot studies.

16                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  They 

17          were demonstrations.

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Okay.  And so now 

19          when we're talking about applying -- more 

20          companies to apply to do tests, are we 

21          going to actually have a scientifically 

22          legitimate study?

23                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  That is 

24          certainly the hope.  With this legislation, 

                                                                  394

 1          by extending it, that is absolutely the 

 2          hope.

 3                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Are we looking at 

 4          the questions for trucks versus cars?  

 5          Which are very different sets of issues, 

 6          but there are autonomous trucks being 

 7          piloted as well.  

 8                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  There 

 9          are.  We have not gotten an application for 

10          trucks.  We will certainly consider that if 

11          and when we get one.

12                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And is the 

13          department looking into what we would need 

14          to change in automobile liability insurance 

15          before we allow these vehicles on our 

16          roads?

17                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  

18          Absolutely.  In order to even do the demo, 

19          they have to have certain insurance that we 

20          worked with DFS to make sure that that is 

21          applicable.  

22                 And again, we have the opportunity 

23          to learn from other states also.  We stay 

24          in close contact with many states that are 

                                                                  395

 1          at different levels of their demonstration 

 2          pilot projects.  But yes, that is certainly 

 3          a concern that we would be considering 

 4          before we made any final recommendations.

 5                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So many states are 

 6          actually waiting for the federal government 

 7          to come up with standards for these 

 8          vehicles.  New York State doesn't think we 

 9          need to wait for a national standard, we're 

10          just charging ahead?

11                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  Well, 

12          actually, national standards have come.  

13          NTSI has issued a series of guidelines and 

14          they update -- they've done two different 

15          iterations of those right now, which in 

16          essence is from a physical perspective the 

17          physical car still has to meet certain 

18          inspections, and then they have guidelines 

19          in regard to what the state should be 

20          considering in implementing any pilot 

21          demonstrations.  

22                 So we're not totally void of federal 

23          guidance, and we certainly keep on the 

24          lookout for any additional guidance from 

                                                                  396

 1          the federal government.  But we do have a 

 2          framework within which to work right now.

 3                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So some of the 

 4          research shows that drivers who are not 

 5          frequent drivers are actually the worst 

 6          drivers.  And so the entire concept of 

 7          autonomous vehicles that when something's 

 8          going wrong, that is when you take control 

 9          of the steering wheel, is actually -- 

10          raises some of the biggest concerns.  

11          Because with people who may have a driver's 

12          license but haven't really driven for X 

13          number of days or weeks or months or years, 

14          and it's at the time when something's about 

15          to hit the fan, so to speak, that they're 

16          supposed to take charge and handle the 

17          wheel.  

18                 So I'm particularly concerned that 

19          New York State does not pretend that a 

20          demonstration by a company, letting you try 

21          to get in the car for a little while, is 

22          the same thing as an actual documented 

23          pilot study and evaluation of what happens.  

24                 Was there a safety factor?  In one 

                                                                  397

 1          vision in my brain, if you put a bunch of 

 2          them on the streets in my district, it's 

 3          just 24/7 gridlock.

 4                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  Yeah.

 5                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Because they are 

 6          supposed to stop if anything untoward 

 7          happens.  And if you've been on the streets 

 8          of Manhattan, you can't go a block without 

 9          something untoward happening.

10                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  Right.

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  A woman with her 

12          child jumping into traffic, jaywalking, 

13          bikes in all directions, emergency vehicles 

14          deciding to careen down the bike lane, 

15          et cetera, et cetera.

16                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  Sure.

17                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So I'm very, very 

18          concerned that we don't just fall into a 

19          "The company said it was safe" --

20                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  Right.

21                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  " -- and it was 

22          really fun the day I drove it around 

23          Albany."

24                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  I 

                                                                  398

 1          absolutely understand.  

 2                 And I would just, if I could, assure 

 3          you at least in some small way that traffic 

 4          safety and reducing fatalities here in this 

 5          state is a very big -- if not the 

 6          biggest -- priority and mission of the 

 7          Department of Motor Vehicles.  So I wear my 

 8          safety hat all the time.  

 9                 And the piece that I want to point 

10          out, and it's something that we do get from 

11          the federal government, is that the crashes 

12          that are occurring right now, 94 percent of 

13          them have human error as the causal factor.  

14          So we kind of laugh within the agency when 

15          we talk about accidents; I've been trying 

16          to get the word "accidents" out of our 

17          vocabulary.  They really are crashes, 

18          because 94 percent of the time they're 

19          avoidable.

20                 What we are finding, as you 

21          perceived through this autonomous vehicle 

22          technology, they do -- they are safer 

23          because it takes those bad driver 

24          behaviors, if you will, actually out of the 

                                                                  399

 1          equation.  And as the technology -- and I'm 

 2          not saying we're there yet, but as the 

 3          technology matures, what it does, it really 

 4          overlooks those bad driving behaviors and 

 5          actually makes these vehicles and the 

 6          people in them safer.

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So it sounds like 

 8          you're the center for autonomous vehicle 

 9          issues.  But the next question is really 

10          probably for Commissioner Reardon of Labor 

11          for next week:  What do we do with the 

12          hundreds of thousands of people who 

13          currently make their living driving trucks 

14          and cars for a living?

15                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  Yeah.  

16                 No, it absolutely is something that 

17          we are involved with different forums on.  

18          I mean, and it's not only that, it's 

19          infrastructure.  Do you need parking 

20          garages downtown anymore if these 

21          autonomous vehicles are -- you know, can 

22          get people to and from work?  

23                 But then the real positive thing is, 

24          too, it creates an opportunity for people 

                                                                  400

 1          that may be physically impaired to be able 

 2          to get to jobs easier than what they're 

 3          getting to now.  

 4                 There's a lot of pros and cons, and 

 5          it is a very complex set of circumstances 

 6          and that's why we're all looking at it 

 7          right now.

 8                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

 9                 EX. DEP. COMMISSIONER EGAN:  Thank 

10          you.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

12                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

13          your testimony here today.  

14                 Next we'd like to have the New York 

15          State Thruway Authority, Matthew Driscoll, 

16          acting executive director.

17                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Good 

18          afternoon.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Good 

20          afternoon.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Good afternoon.

22                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  

23          Chairperson Young and Chairperson Weinstein 

24          and members of the Senate and Assembly 

                                                                  401

 1          fiscal and transportation committees, thank 

 2          you for having me here today.  My name is 

 3          Matthew Driscoll.  I am the acting 

 4          executive director for the New York State 

 5          Thruway Authority.  

 6                 The Governor Thomas E. Dewey Thruway 

 7          is a 570-mile superhighway crossing 

 8          New York State, and it's in fact one of the 

 9          longest toll systems in the United States.  

10          Underscoring its importance to the state, 

11          region and nation, our preliminary figures 

12          for 2017 indicate that Thruway customers 

13          traveled approximately 8.3 billion vehicle 

14          miles on the highway, averaging roughly 

15          23 million vehicle miles each and every 

16          day.  

17                 In addition to being the principal 

18          artery of travel and commerce within 

19          New York and connecting many of our state's 

20          major cities, the Thruway is a vital link 

21          to long-distance interstate travel.  In 

22          addition, the Thruway provides the major 

23          route of access for visitors to the state's 

24          tourism anchors, including Niagara Falls, 

                                                                  402

 1          the Finger Lakes, the Adirondacks, the 

 2          Catskills, and of course New York City.  

 3                 The overall 2018 Thruway Authority 

 4          budget represents a total financial 

 5          commitment of $1.5 billion.  In 2018, it is 

 6          anticipated that the Thruway Authority will 

 7          replace or rehabilitate 25 bridges and 

 8          address approximately 170 lane miles.  It 

 9          is a budget that is balanced, provides the 

10          necessary resources to keep our patrons 

11          safe while maintaining our facilities, and 

12          maximizes funding for critical 

13          infrastructure projects in the Authority’s 

14          multiyear capital plan.  

15                 I'd like to update you on the New NY 

16          Bridge project, one of the nation's largest 

17          and safest active bridge projects, and a 

18          national model of design-build 

19          construction.  The project continues to be 

20          on track to fully open later this year and 

21          remains on budget at $3.98 billion.  In 

22          August of 2017, westbound traffic shifted 

23          to the first span of the Governor Mario M. 

24          Cuomo Bridge, followed by eastbound traffic 

                                                                  403

 1          shifting in October, so that all traffic is 

 2          now on that first span.  

 3                 The 2019 Executive Budget includes a 

 4          reappropriation of nearly $2 billion from 

 5          the special infrastructure account for the 

 6          Thruway Stabilization Program.  These funds 

 7          will continue to support capital 

 8          investments including the bridge and other 

 9          projects throughout the system.  We 

10          appreciate your continued support of the 

11          bridge project and the recognition of our 

12          systemwide capital needs.  This support 

13          enables tolls to remain at current levels 

14          until at least 2020.  

15                 The Executive Budget also includes 

16          an authorization for the Thruway Authority 

17          to enter into agreements for use of its 

18          fiber optic system based on set fees 

19          established by an appraisal.  This new 

20          business model will help enable the 

21          Thruway Authority to optimize use of our 

22          fiber optic system by engaging with 

23          multiple parties.  This asset consists of 

24          multiple ducts and fibers, enabling many 

                                                                  404

 1          entities to use it at the same time, 

 2          maximizing revenue potential to further 

 3          support our facilities.  

 4                 I'd also like to take this 

 5          opportunity to thank the talented men and 

 6          women of the Thruway Authority for their 

 7          dedication and their professionalism in 

 8          bringing the highest standards of safety 

 9          and reliability across our operation every 

10          day.  

11                 Please know that I am personally 

12          committed to ensuring that the Authority 

13          continues to play a central role in the 

14          state's economic expansion, empowers 

15          ingenuity and innovation, and demonstrates 

16          the impact that an effective and responsive 

17          government can have on the lives of its 

18          residents.  

19                 And before I open up for questions, 

20          I have a request for the members to 

21          consider.  As you may or may not know, we 

22          are running a program relative to E-ZPass.  

23          It's something that we continue to market, 

24          and we're currently running a program that 

                                                                  405

 1          goes through February 26th which offers a 

 2          $10 refund back on use of an E-ZPass on the 

 3          go.  Our sales in 2017 increased 22 percent 

 4          in E-ZPass.  But we want to do better 

 5          because we want to encourage people to 

 6          utilize E-ZPass.  It's the most efficient 

 7          and the most cost-effective way to travel 

 8          New York's Thruway system.  

 9                 So my request is this.  I'd like to 

10          ask for your consideration to place 

11          materials in each of your offices to help 

12          alert your constituents as well about the 

13          benefits of cashless tolling.  

14                 So having said that, I will turn it 

15          over and thank you for your time, and open 

16          it up to any questions that you may have.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

18          Executive Director.

19                 I had a few questions.  Can the 

20          Thruway reconfirm that the cost of the new 

21          Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge will not 

22          lead to a systemwide toll increase through 

23          2020?  

24                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  That's 

                                                                  406

 1          correct.  It will not be a socialized 

 2          system.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So what happens 

 4          after 2020?

 5                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Well, 

 6          after 2020, when the bridge is fully 

 7          complete, when the project is complete, we 

 8          will look at all the costs that have been 

 9          sunk, incurred into the project.  And 

10          that's how we will determine a financing 

11          model moving forward.

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So there could be 

13          a systemwide increase after 2020?  

14                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  I'm not 

15          suggesting that.  I'm speaking specifically 

16          for the bridge project.  As I said in my 

17          opening statement, tolls will remain flat 

18          through 2020.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  But you 

20          just said that you'll assess how much it 

21          costs.  And then what will you do with 

22          those costs?

23                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Perhaps I 

24          misunderstood your question.  I thought it 

                                                                  407

 1          was relative to the financing structure of 

 2          the bridge.  So if it was not, then, you 

 3          know, I'll ask you to repeat your question.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Well, what we're 

 5          looking at, as I said, systemwide.  So are 

 6          you speaking of bridge tolls or are you 

 7          speaking of systemwide tolls on the entire 

 8          Thruway?  

 9                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Yeah, I'm 

10          not speaking of tolls, I was speaking of 

11          the costs of the bridge project.  And so we 

12          expect --

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Right, but what I 

14          asked was would there be a systemwide toll 

15          increase after 2020.

16                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Well, I 

17          don't want to speculate on that at this 

18          point.  And so I'll divide it into two 

19          packages.  

20                 The first will be the bridge 

21          project, which I know many people have 

22          asked that question.  Until we know with 

23          certainty what all the costs will be with 

24          that project, all the sunk costs, and not 

                                                                  408

 1          only with respect to the costs with respect 

 2          to the project itself -- and by the way, 

 3          I'm cautiously optimistic that we can 

 4          actually bring it in under -- but then 

 5          would be the costs of issuance as well, and 

 6          all the costs associated with the final 

 7          package, if you will, relative to the 

 8          financing of that structure, will that 

 9          conversation take place.  

10                 With respect to the rest of the 

11          system, at this point we know with 

12          certainty that tolls are held flat through 

13          2020.  That would be a discussion that will 

14          take place beyond that time.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So you'll go 

16          through the assessment of how much the 

17          bridge costs, and then that -- will that be 

18          applied to bridge tolls or will people in 

19          Buffalo and Chautauqua County pay for the 

20          Tappan Zee Bridge?

21                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  No, that 

22          would be applied to the financial structure 

23          for the bridge.  The toll conversation 

24          would be completely different.  

                                                                  409

 1                 But the toll conversation with 

 2          respect to the bridge is premature until we 

 3          know all the sunk costs and the costs of 

 4          issuance for the bridge.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Isn't the 

 6          financing plan overdue for the Mario Cuomo 

 7          Bridge?

 8                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  I 

 9          wouldn't suggest that it's overdue.  You 

10          know, I think -- and of course, with your 

11          support, there was $2 billion that the 

12          Governor allocated to the project in 2015.  

13          So 1.2 of that is going to the bridge 

14          project, and 800 to the rest of the system.

15                 The Thruway Authority closed on the 

16          TIFIA loan on 2013, I believe it was, and 

17          in fact that's parked in the U.S. Treasury.  

18          There was a bond issuance by the Authority 

19          as well.  So we know that we still have 

20          another issuance of roughly 330 million 

21          that we have not done yet.  

22                 So again, there's still steps to be 

23          taken.  And as I point out, I think 

24          importantly, you know, we're hopeful that 

                                                                  410

 1          we come in under.  That's our goal.  But 

 2          once all those costs are had, and once we 

 3          can identify all of the sunk costs and the 

 4          costs of issuance, then we would know what 

 5          the final package would be.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  And you 

 7          said that's next year.  Do you have any 

 8          more of a pinpoint time frame that you 

 9          picture?  

10                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Well, I 

11          said that would likely be in 2020.

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, so it goes 

13          till 2020.

14                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Right.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Switching gears, 

16          what's the status of the New NY Bridge Toll 

17          Advisory Task Force that the Governor 

18          announced in late 2015?  Has this group 

19          met?  

20                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Sure.  

21          Well, as you know, it has not met.  And 

22          there's candidly no reason to meet at this 

23          point in time, because we're still about 

24          two years away from the process that I just 

                                                                  411

 1          described.  So no, they have not met, and 

 2          they will not be meeting anytime in the 

 3          near future.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Will the group, 

 5          when it finally does meet, consider 

 6          potential resident and commuter discount 

 7          toll programs?  

 8                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  You know, 

 9          and I think that -- and that's a good 

10          point.  And that's probably an appropriate 

11          discussion for that task force when they do 

12          meet.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, look 

14          forward to seeing how that works out.

15                 Please comment on the operational 

16          savings and financial improvements that 

17          have taken place at the Thruway over the 

18          past few years.  Is the Authority's 

19          financial condition stronger today?  And 

20          what is the opinion of the bond rating 

21          agencies?  

22                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Well, I 

23          can't speak to what's gone on in the past 

24          several years; I've only been there now 

                                                                  412

 1          three and a half months myself.  

 2                 But I can tell you --

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  You have a sense, 

 4          don't you?  

 5                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  But I can 

 6          tell you that just this past June they 

 7          received a very positive rating from 

 8          Standard & Poor's.  

 9                 So our financial outlook is good.  

10          We're very stable.  The revenue streams are 

11          consistent.  One of the things, you know, 

12          that I'm looking at is creating better 

13          efficiencies.  That's not to suggest they 

14          haven't been.  But I think and hope a fresh 

15          set of eyes may help lead us down some 

16          different paths.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  What's been the 

18          Thruway's experience with cashless tolling, 

19          for example at the Tappan Zee/Mario Cuomo 

20          Bridge?

21                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Right.  I 

22          guess it depends who you ask.  So let me 

23          say this, that most everybody pays.  In 

24          fact, 96 percent of the users of the 

                                                                  413

 1          Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge pay, either 

 2          largely by E-ZPass and/or tolls by mail.  

 3          So -- but the smaller subset has been the 

 4          challenge in terms of some conflictions 

 5          with mailings of the bills and otherwise.  

 6                 And so as I think you're probably 

 7          well aware, we've been taking some very 

 8          dramatic steps as of late to remedy that 

 9          situation.  And that's part and parcel why 

10          I asked in my opening comments, is because 

11          it's clear to me that we need to do a 

12          better job of educating the public on why 

13          they should use E-ZPass.  Because if you 

14          have E-ZPass, you avoid these potential 

15          issues.  

16                 And so that will be a big part of 

17          what we're doing going forward as we move 

18          towards statewide cashless tolling.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  And 

20          can you expound a little bit more about the 

21          Governor's violation amnesty program?  

22                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Sure.  So 

23          it's a program that's actually in effect 

24          right now, it started this past Monday, the 

                                                                  414

 1          26th.  And it will in fact run through 

 2          February 26th.  

 3                 And what we're doing, and as I've 

 4          said, we're giving an opportunity to people 

 5          who have used the bridge for passenger 

 6          vehicles from when it opened in April of 

 7          2016 through January 31st of this month, 

 8          and maybe in a dispute, whether it's, you 

 9          know, with their toll, on a fee, to have a 

10          chance to wipe the slate clean, if you 

11          will.  

12                 So we're offering that amnesty 

13          program.  If they paid their tolls in full, 

14          those charges will be removed.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Do you have an 

16          estimation as to how many of those exist?  

17                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Well, I 

18          can tell you, if I can find it here, what 

19          we have done today.  As of about 10:50 

20          today, 1161 customers have paid $49,000 in 

21          tolls.  So that's resolved about 9700 

22          violations.  

23                 Now, we're only in it in the first 

24          week.  And I want to point out that the 

                                                                  415

 1          amnesty program, as I said, continues 

 2          through February 26th.  So on February 1st, 

 3          we will be mailing letters and 

 4          notifications to people who are still in 

 5          this situation, and they have through 

 6          February 26th to enter the amnesty program 

 7          and again take advantage of what's a great 

 8          opportunity to wipe the slate clean in 

 9          2018.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

11                 So a section of the Thruway in 

12          Chautauqua County goes through the Seneca 

13          Nation of Indians territory.  And are there 

14          repairs that need to be made in that 

15          section of roadway?  

16                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  We're 

17          actually repairing today.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  You are, good.

19                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Yeah, 

20          well, there's potholes.  You know, and I've 

21          heard from previous testimony about the 

22          pothole situation.  There's potholes 

23          everywhere, it happens in the wintertime.  

24                 But yes.  So if I may, I actually 

                                                                  416

 1          went out and visited that section myself a 

 2          couple of weeks ago.  And I can report to 

 3          you that I've had some conversations with 

 4          the appropriate people.  In fact what we're 

 5          doing now is working with them on an 

 6          agreement that will allow us to get in and 

 7          to do debris removal, which is really an 

 8          important piece, along the Chautauqua 

 9          Bridge there over the creek.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Some concerns 

11          with flooding there, right?  Or is that the 

12          bridge -- the bridge structure?  

13                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Well, 

14          there isn't any, but I don't want any.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Right, okay.

16                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Correct.  

17          And we know that, you know, when spring 

18          comes, of course, there's going to be 

19          tremendous runoff.  And we're seeing kind 

20          of ebbs and flows of weather now.  

21                 But so we're having those 

22          conversations with them on debris removal, 

23          it's very positive so far, and I intend to 

24          continue those conversations going forward.

                                                                  417

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Good.  So the 

 2          Thruway is directly speaking to them, to 

 3          the nation?  

 4                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Yes.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  Good.  

 6                 All right, I think that's all I 

 7          have.  Thank you.

 8                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Thank 

 9          you.  

10                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

11          Paulin.

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Hi.

13                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  How are 

14          you?

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Welcome to 

16          your new job.

17                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Yes, 

18          thank you.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  I wanted to 

20          follow up on cashless tolls.  Just, you 

21          know, I live -- a lot of my constituents 

22          are probably in that -- you know, are 

23          applying for amnesty or what have you.

24                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Right.

                                                                  418

 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  And I 

 2          wondered, you know, what improvements -- 

 3          now, I recognize it's only 4 percent that 

 4          might fall into this category.  But what 

 5          improvements are we going to make so that 

 6          we don't have amnesty program after amnesty 

 7          program after the next six months?  

 8                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Agreed.  

 9          And let me tell you that this is the only 

10          amnesty program that I intend to do.  

11                 But let me tell you about the 

12          improvements that we have made.  So one of 

13          the complaints that I heard was people 

14          couldn't see the signage or they missed 

15          seeing the signage.  

16                 So I've had new signage installed, 

17          and perhaps you've seen it as well.  It's 8 

18          by 12, it's very large and it's yellow.  

19          And it tells folks who don't have EZ-Pass 

20          that they'll need to enter *826 to pay 

21          their toll by mail.  

22                 Also added additional signage, very 

23          large, 18 by 7 feet as well, that does the 

24          same thing, reminds them about E-ZPass and 

                                                                  419

 1          toll by mail.

 2                 We have changed -- and it was an 

 3          idea that was born from the general news, I 

 4          thought it was a good one.  We've changed 

 5          the envelope, and now there's no missing 

 6          what the envelope is sent to you for.  It's 

 7          very clear that inside there is a toll 

 8          bill.  

 9                 We've also changed the inside of the 

10          toll bill to clearly define the due date of 

11          which that toll must be paid by.

12                 We're undertaking a tremendous 

13          marketing program.  We'll be, you know, 

14          running specials, as I've just announced 

15          here, to encourage people to buy E-ZPass.  

16          I think largely it's going to be an 

17          education program as well.  

18                 But in terms of signage, envelopes 

19          and mailings, we're being very aggressive.  

20          And we will continue to be.  We recognize 

21          that there's an educational component here, 

22          but we're also asking for the public's, you 

23          know, support as well; when they go over 

24          the bridge, there's a toll associated with 

                                                                  420

 1          that.  

 2                 And that's why E-ZPass makes the 

 3          most sense, because if you use the bridge 

 4          on a routine basis, why wouldn't you want 

 5          to save 5 percent every time, right?  And 

 6          that's what's the benefit of an E-ZPass.  

 7          And you avoid, you know, any potential 

 8          disputes with a toll bill that may be 

 9          mailed to you.

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  A lot of the 

11          complaints that I've heard from 

12          constituents is that they don't know, you 

13          know, they didn't see it in the mail.  The 

14          first time they did, it was a hundred 

15          dollar fine.  So the envelopes are one 

16          possible cure.  

17                 Has there been any -- because people 

18          are going online, they read the Journal 

19          News articles.  You know, they're not 

20          necessarily going to get communicated -- as 

21          you said, there were 1100 just today.  Is 

22          there any attempt through that process to 

23          find out additionally why there may be a 

24          problem so, if it's registration, mismatch 

                                                                  421

 1          or what have you --

 2                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Well, so 

 3          here's what's going -- two things.  One, by 

 4          law -- one of the complaints has been, 

 5          Well, I moved and I didn't get the bill.  

 6          So I'm assuming they didn't get all their 

 7          other mail either.  

 8                 But so one of the things that we're 

 9          doing is reminding people that, by law, 

10          they have 10 days to report a change of 

11          address to the DMV.  That's also part of 

12          kind of the marketing piece, you know, that 

13          we're doing.  

14                 We are also -- and I will be meeting 

15          with the Conduit, who is the company that 

16          administers this program for us.  I've made 

17          it known to them that I've been not pleased 

18          with some of the results that I've heard 

19          firsthand from people.  I'll be doing that 

20          later; in a couple of weeks, I'm going to 

21          down to Staten Island and meeting with 

22          folks to do that.

23                 So we're very focused on getting 

24          people to understand about changing their 

                                                                  422

 1          address, they need to do that.  That's 

 2          critically important.  And then of course 

 3          I'll also be speaking with the appropriate 

 4          representatives of the company as we can 

 5          work towards new ways for notification.

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  As we roll 

 7          this out statewide, are there other options 

 8          if that company doesn't meet your 

 9          expectations?

10                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Well, 

11          without completely divulging all of my 

12          expectations, I'm having much of that 

13          looked at now, certainly with our 

14          attorneys.  But I believe that we'll be 

15          able to come to a solution.  The technology 

16          is there.  So I'll be having that 

17          conversation with them.  

18                 But again, you know, from the 

19          department's perspective, we continue to do 

20          all we can.  I should have mentioned we've 

21          also created a brand-new web page that's 

22          associated with the amnesty program people 

23          can go to.  Or if they wanted to get more 

24          information or buy that E-ZPass, 

                                                                  423

 1          thruway.ny.gov/getezpass, or 

 2          thruway.ny.gov/amnesty, so it helps direct 

 3          them direct to the program and it's easy to 

 4          navigate.  

 5                 So we'll be working forward on a lot 

 6          of fixes.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  What about 

 8          the money?  How much do we -- you know, if 

 9          we collected all the tolls, how much are we 

10          losing by not collecting the fees?  And how 

11          much are we getting by collecting the 

12          tolls?  

13                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Right.  

14          So in that period there's about $5 million, 

15          in round numbers, in tolls that have not 

16          been collected, and about $8 million in 

17          fees associated with that.  So my hope is 

18          we collect the 5 million in tolls.  We 

19          would, you know, reduce and eliminate, of 

20          course, those fees, so the delta would be 

21          about 3 million.  

22                 But I think, in light of the 

23          circumstances, it's all well spent.  And as 

24          we go forward, we will not have these 

                                                                  424

 1          problems with statewide cashless tolling.  

 2          We're going to get this fixed here and now 

 3          so that when we roll this out at the end of 

 4          2020, we will eliminate the problems to the 

 5          degree that we can.

 6                 I do want to add one piece, though, 

 7          which is -- and I hope that you can see we 

 8          are trying very hard, whether it's signage, 

 9          mailing, websites, the communication we're 

10          doing.  But there also does become a 

11          personal responsibility to ensure that 

12          people participate.  Because it's only fair 

13          for everybody who does participate, right?  

14                 So through this amnesty program, it 

15          runs through February 26th, we're 

16          encouraging, strongly, people to 

17          participate.  Those that don't, the process 

18          for them starts over.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Two other 

20          quick questions related to cashless tolls.  

21          Has there been any consideration -- one of 

22          the strongest criticisms that we've heard 

23          is the first fee is $100.  You know, has 

24          there been any consideration to lowering 

                                                                  425

 1          that first violation?  

 2                 And then the second is related to 

 3          violations, there's been -- there was some, 

 4          I guess, connecting to law enforcement to 

 5          go after violators.  How is that process 

 6          going to take place?  Because, you know, 

 7          who is going to be notified, how is the 

 8          notification going to occur?  I think 

 9          something that I read said something like 

10          within a minute, 3 seconds, something like 

11          that, you know, and then the law 

12          enforcement would be able to pursue 

13          violators.

14                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Well, let 

15          me answer your first part, which is for me, 

16          everything is on the table.  

17                 As part of my review of this 

18          process -- as I say, I'm somewhat new to 

19          the process.  However, I've really delved 

20          into it, and so many of the changes that 

21          you've seen are a result of that.  So with 

22          respect to the fee structure, that's on the 

23          table for me as well.  I'm not prepared 

24          certainly to make a decision on that today, 

                                                                  426

 1          but it is on the table.

 2                 With respect to the notification 

 3          process from the administrator of our 

 4          program, I want to see improvements there 

 5          so that people are more aware of the 

 6          process.  

 7                 I do want to make a comment on the 

 8          fee, the $100 dollar fee, and that's what 

 9          has gotten many people's attention, of 

10          course, rightfully so.  That does not occur 

11          within a first month.  That really only 

12          occurs after there's been no responses 

13          after a hundred days.  So when you go 

14          through the toll, you don't pay, you're 

15          sent a bill in the mail.  So it's $5 to go 

16          over the bridge.  On the second bill, which 

17          is at about 70 days -- so 40 days after the 

18          first 30-day bill, there's a $5 fee 

19          associated with that.  

20                 When you get to the hundred days, if 

21          you haven't paid, then it's the toll of $5 

22          and the $100 fee.  So it takes about a 

23          hundred days to get to that point.

24                 Now, people have told me that it's 

                                                                  427

 1          been sooner than that for them.  This is 

 2          part of the review that I'm going through 

 3          and part of the process in the system that 

 4          I want to ensure that is done accurately.  

 5          So that --

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  And how many 

 7          notices in between would be something else 

 8          to look at.  You know, if there's one at 

 9          70 days, you might want to move it up a 

10          little.

11                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Yeah, and 

12          so -- but I -- my point that I'm making, 

13          it's been fairly lenient in terms of the 

14          time frame between notices until you get to 

15          that third orange envelope that says 

16          there's a hundred dollars on there.  But 

17          all of it's on the table.

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  And the 

19          connection to law enforcement or the 

20          connection to some enforcement, you know, 

21          when someone is a violator going through 

22          the system, how is that going to work?

23                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  So that's 

24          going to be a conversation.  I want to 

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 1          learn from the MTA on how they've done that 

 2          in installations with that -- that's a 

 3          discussion, actually, I'm having next 

 4          week -- so that we can have similar 

 5          systems.  I think it's important that we 

 6          have compatible systems, right, it just 

 7          makes sense, so that the customers are 

 8          having a similar experience.

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  And as far 

10          as -- you know, I know you talked that the 

11          toll on the Tappan Zee would be isolated to 

12          that.

13                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  

14          Socialized, yes.

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Yeah.  And I 

16          just wondered if there's been any 

17          conversations about that, what it's going 

18          to look like.  You know, we're not that -- 

19          you know, we're only a little bit away from 

20          there, 2020. 

21                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Right.  I 

22          have not had any conversations on that 

23          whatsoever.  My focus is to see that the 

24          bridge is delivered, of course.  And quite 

                                                                  429

 1          candidly, in the last couple of months now 

 2          I've been immersed in this issue, so -- and 

 3          snow and ice, which is a big part of what 

 4          we do.  We've been very active across the 

 5          state.  You know, it may not appear that 

 6          way today, but we've had a very busy winter 

 7          season thus far, and the safety of our 

 8          traveling public is very important, so -- 

 9          but all of that, of course, is yet to come.

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  And finally, 

11          on another subject, the fiber system, the 

12          Public Authorities Law already provides a 

13          method to dispose of property by public 

14          auction.  You know, why should the process 

15          be different for the Thruway Authority's 

16          fiber optic system?  And what is meant 

17          exactly by "disposal"?  Because it's not 

18          defined.  

19                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Right.  

20          Well, we're not looking to dispose of the 

21          property.  I'd like to enhance it.  I think 

22          we're missing out on an opportunity to 

23          enhance our revenues.  

24                 You heard from DOT that talked about 

                                                                  430

 1          the enormous benefits and desire by 

 2          companies in the fiber optic world.  We 

 3          have, from a business perspective, an 

 4          opportunity to grow that and to do that 

 5          competitively.  And so that's what I've 

 6          asked for in legislation form, is the 

 7          authority to do that.  It would be done by 

 8          an appraisal, prices would be set.  But we 

 9          could take on a lot more customers and we 

10          could grow more revenue, which could be 

11          used, you know, for the maintenance of our 

12          facilities and otherwise.  So I think it 

13          just makes good business sense.

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PAULIN:  Thank you 

15          very much.

16                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Thank 

17          you.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator Savino.

19                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Senator 

20          Young.  

21                 Good to see you, Matt.  I just want 

22          to follow up on the amnesty program.  So 

23          I'm not going to belabor the point, but for 

24          people who had already paid their fines, 

                                                                  431

 1          paid the outstanding tolls, are they going 

 2          to be able to participate and get the money 

 3          back, the excess money that they paid back?  

 4                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  No.  So 

 5          this is a going forward program.

 6                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Going forward.

 7                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  So that's 

 8          the program that I've rolled out.  It's a 

 9          going-forward program.

10                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Okay.  And I know 

11          you and I spoke about this offline when we 

12          ran into each other.  Is the Thruway 

13          Authority looking at any other ways to 

14          capture toll revenue through an electronic 

15          collection besides E-ZPass?  Because again, 

16          there are still some people who are not 

17          going to want an E-ZPass.  They don't use 

18          it enough or they don't want to tie a 

19          credit card to it.  Because I think now the 

20          minimum that you have to maintain on an 

21          E-ZPass is -- is it $50?  

22                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:   

23          Twenty-five.

24                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Twenty-five.  So 

                                                                  432

 1          some people just don't want to do it.  And 

 2          some of the problems we've encountered with 

 3          the MTA bridges is that there used to be a 

 4          mechanism to let people know that they had 

 5          a low balance, you know, when you went 

 6          through the toll booths.

 7                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  And that 

 8          happens here.

 9                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Right, but there's 

10          no -- but people don't realize that they're 

11          below.  So the MTA set up, at our request, 

12          an email notification to users so that if 

13          they are low-balance, they'll let them 

14          know, because you run the risk of an 

15          additional fine if you have an E-ZPass and 

16          you go through the toll and it doesn't have 

17          any money on it.  So now you get a fine for 

18          that, you get another fine, and then you 

19          get the bill in the mail as well.

20                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  No, so 

21          that's precisely what I'd like to do, is to 

22          have a notification process in place, you 

23          know, as I look towards the statewide full 

24          rollout, that's more informative.  

                                                                  433

 1                 And so I guess the short answer is 

 2          is that technology is evolving each and 

 3          every day.  It is something that we are 

 4          going to keep our eyes wide open on.  

 5          Because as we go forward, there may be, 

 6          there could be, better alternatives.  

 7                 E-ZPass, you know, is right now 

 8          utilized in 16 states.  It seems to work 

 9          fairly, fairly well across the board for 

10          all.  And I think it works well here in 

11          New York State.  I think the bigger 

12          challenges have been the tolls-by-mail 

13          piece for us.  Well, in fact I know that 

14          that's been the bigger challenge.  

15                 But we're always open to looking at 

16          new technology.  In fact, I charged my IT 

17          person yesterday with looking at how, as we 

18          think forward, mobile devices might be used 

19          to make your payment instantaneously.  And 

20          so that's a project that we're undertaking, 

21          because of course technology continues to 

22          change, and I want to make sure that the 

23          Thruway Authority is in the best position 

24          for its customers going forward.

                                                                  434

 1                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Great.  Thank you.

 2                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  You're 

 3          welcome.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

 5          Otis.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Congratulations 

 7          on your move from DOT to the Thruway 

 8          Authority.  And I can attest firsthand that 

 9          you're a consummate transportation 

10          professional, because I was on the bus when 

11          we were going out to the Mario Cuomo Bridge 

12          opening, and the side mirror, you remember, 

13          wasn't working for the bus driver, and so 

14          the executive director of the Thruway 

15          Authority got out and manhandled that 

16          mirror so that we could get the bus moving.  

17          And that's --

18                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Right.  

19          And I hope that validates my concern for 

20          public safety, including yours.

21                 (Laughter.)

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Very good.  Very 

23          good.

24                 I'd like to thank you for a little 

                                                                  435

 1          matter which is in an area that's going to 

 2          be the last-mile project near the 

 3          Connecticut border, we had a safety concern 

 4          that we brought to the attention of your 

 5          office probably a couple of months ago 

 6          where there had been an accident and they 

 7          wanted some Jersey barriers.  And you and 

 8          the Authority were very responsive to get 

 9          added protection there by some homeowners.  

10                 And so people should know, it's not 

11          just the big stuff, it's the little stuff 

12          that counts, and I appreciate your 

13          responsiveness on that.

14                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Well, 

15          thank you.  And that is -- I have not yet 

16          visited that section.  I intend to.  I want 

17          to see it firsthand.  But we're obviously 

18          happy to help.  And again, making sure that 

19          the traveling public is always safe is our 

20          job.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Well, call and 

22          I'll join you down there, so that would be 

23          good.

24                 The question that I have relates to 

                                                                  436

 1          the high-speed or cashless tolling, rollout 

 2          of that infrastructure throughout the 

 3          entire state.  And maybe could you talk a 

 4          little about what the long-term game plan 

 5          is for the Thruway Authority to phase that 

 6          in through the system?

 7                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Yup, 

 8          happy to.

 9                 So here's where we are right now.  

10          We're analyzing potential costs to a 

11          statewide system.  We're also -- and we 

12          have consultants, you know, on board, of 

13          course, under contract, so they're part of 

14          that.  And then ultimately it will be a 

15          design-build project because that's been -- 

16          and I can tell you from my experience at 

17          DOT, it's worked very well.  

18                 And so we will formulate that 

19          design-build team, and that's where the 

20          innovation from a design-build team comes 

21          in as well.  Because on an upstate section, 

22          you don't need a gantry every couple of 

23          miles.  So we want to make sure that we 

24          have the most modern, efficient system 

                                                                  437

 1          there is.  And they'll help us develop that 

 2          and specifically the costs associated with 

 3          that.  

 4                 So we're developing the scope, 

 5          analyzing potential costs, and we'll be 

 6          bringing that team together to roll that 

 7          plan forward.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  So upstate you 

 9          don't necessarily have to do it where the 

10          exits are now, you can do it on the main 

11          line itself?  

12                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  So that's 

13          where we want to bring in not only the 

14          experts that we have at the Thruway, but 

15          also in the private sector.  

16                 We will be completing and opening 

17          Grand Island this March, as well as 

18          Harriman later in the year.  So those will 

19          be two kind of sections that will be 

20          cashless.  And the Harriman was really 

21          part, in a partnership with DOT, to help 

22          the Woodbury Commons.  But yes, we are 

23          going to be rolling this out statewide.  

24                 You know, a little bit of history.  

                                                                  438

 1          When the interstate system was created 

 2          under the Eisenhower era, New York was one 

 3          of the first superhighways constructed and 

 4          I think was one of the first that had 

 5          E-ZPass.  But 16 other states have E-ZPass 

 6          statewide, and we don't.  

 7                 And so when I talk about some of the 

 8          changes that, you know, I hope to bring to 

 9          the Thruway Authority, that's been a big 

10          part of it.  And then the technology, 

11          as you know, Senator Savino mentions, I 

12          think that there's lots of opportunity with 

13          respect to how we manage our traffic, how 

14          we manage ourselves going forward utilizing 

15          technology.  And certainly we'll be doing 

16          that in the most cost-effective way as we 

17          develop and refine our scope for a 

18          statewide cashless tolling system.  

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Thank you very 

20          much.  Good luck with everything.

21                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Thank 

22          you.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you, 

24          Mr. Driscoll.  I think that is all --

                                                                  439

 1                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Well, 

 2          thank you.  And just one last request, if I 

 3          may.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Sure.

 5                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  So I'd  

 6          like to have my intergovernmental affairs 

 7          person reach out to your offices, and maybe 

 8          we'll send you something if you're 

 9          interested.  We'd appreciate having 

10          material that you might be able to provide 

11          to your constituents for the benefits of 

12          cashless tolling.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Great idea.  

14          Thank you.

15                 ACTING EX. DIR. DRISCOLL:  Thank 

16          you.  

17                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

18                 Next we have the New York State 

19          Association of Town Superintendents of 

20          Highways, Bernhard Meyer, president; and 

21          New York State County Highway 

22          Superintendents Association, Wayne 

23          Bonesteel, legislative committee cochair. 

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Welcome.

                                                                  440

 1                 MR. BONESTEEL:  Hi.

 2                 Good afternoon, Chairperson Young, 

 3          Chairperson Weinstein, and other members of 

 4          the Legislature's fiscal committee.  I'm 

 5          Wayne Bonesteel.  I'm the county engineer 

 6          for Rensselaer County as well as the 

 7          cochair of the New York State County 

 8          Highway Superintendents' Association 

 9          Legislative Committee.  With me is Bernie 

10          Meyer; he's the president of the New York 

11          State Association of Town Superintendents 

12          of Highways.  He's also the Town of Canaan 

13          superintendent of highways.  

14                 We appreciate this opportunity to 

15          comment on the 2018-2019 Executive Budget 

16          as it relates to funding local 

17          transportation infrastructure.  

18                 As you know, our collective 

19          membership is responsible for ensuring the 

20          safe condition and operation of 87 percent 

21          of the state's public-road mileage, half of 

22          its bridges, and for snowplowing not only 

23          our huge system, but also over a quarter of 

24          the New York State DOT's roads.  Every time 

                                                                  441

 1          there is a weather event, the hardworking 

 2          men and women on our local crews ensure 

 3          New York's drivers can get to and from 

 4          work, homes, schools, hospitals and other 

 5          destinations safely.

 6                 We'd like to begin by thanking you 

 7          for your steadfast support for funding 

 8          local highway departments so that they are 

 9          better able to replace, rehabilitate, pave, 

10          plow and maintain state and local roads, 

11          bridges and culverts.  Thanks to the 

12          Governor and Legislature's support, we now 

13          have essentially four programs that provide 

14          state and federal funds for local highway 

15          departments as part of the current 

16          five-year transportation capital plan: 

17          CHIPS, Marchiselli, PAVE NY, and BRIDGE NY.  

18                 Also, the Legislature has provided 

19          additional funding several times by making 

20          one-time appropriations for extreme winter 

21          recovery that this year distributes 

22          $65 million to local highway departments 

23          through the CHIPS formula.  The 2018-2019 

24          Executive Budget proposes to cut that vital 

                                                                  442

 1          $65 million appropriation.

 2                 CHIPS, the Consolidated Local Street 

 3          and Highway Improvement Program, as we all 

 4          know, is the financial lifeblood of any 

 5          local highway department, distributing 

 6          important and reoccurring state funding 

 7          through a formula to every local government 

 8          in the state.  The 2018-2019 Executive 

 9          Budget holds the base level for CHIPS at 

10          $438 million for the sixth year in a row, 

11          after the Legislature championed the last 

12          increase of $75 million back in 2013.  

13                 While providing a reliable 

14          reoccurring base amount of state funding 

15          for local roads and bridges over the last 

16          five-year period, CHIPS funds continue to 

17          fall short of what is needed to keep the 

18          locally owned ailing and aging 

19          transportation system from falling further 

20          into a state of disrepair.  Our 

21          associations urge your support of an annual 

22          $150 million increase in the CHIPS base.

23                 The addition by the Legislature this 

24          year of $65 million in Extreme Winter 

                                                                  443

 1          Recovery Reimbursement, along with the 

 2          third-year $100 million appropriation for 

 3          PAVE NY has helped to bridge the growing 

 4          shortfall in CHIPS funding.  Unlike CHIPS 

 5          and the Extreme Winter Recovery funding, 

 6          PAVE NY funding to assist municipalities 

 7          with rehabilitation and reconstruction of 

 8          local highways and roads is apportioned by 

 9          NYSDOT according to the percentage of funds 

10          each municipality received under the CHIPS 

11          program.  Consideration should be given for 

12          this funding to be added to the CHIPS base 

13          and distributed through the CHIPS formula. 

14          In this way, the state can build upon a 

15          program that provides a fair distribution 

16          of funds to every municipality in the state 

17          through a standard formula while maximizing 

18          flexibility for local highway departments 

19          to direct this funding where it is needed 

20          most.

21                 This is an approach to assisting 

22          local highway departments on which both our 

23          associations agree and urge that future 

24          Extreme Winter Recovery and PAVE NY funding 

                                                                  444

 1          be consolidated into the CHIPS base.

 2                 MR. MEYER:  Okay, the BRIDGE NY 

 3          Phase 1 of the local portion of BRIDGE NY, 

 4          which includes the first two years 

 5          appropriation for the program, made 

 6          available $200 million designated 

 7          specifically for local bridge and culvert 

 8          work.  We understand nearly 500 

 9          applications for funding for bridge and 

10          culvert projects under BRIDGE NY were 

11          submitted by counties, towns, cities and 

12          villages throughout the state.  

13                 In Phase 1, the value of project 

14          applications far exceeded what was 

15          available for each region of the state. 

16          Based on this experience, we made a case 

17          during your budget deliberations last year 

18          that the need for additional bridge and 

19          culvert funding is clearly justified, and 

20          asked that more of the funding be directed 

21          for culverts.

22                 As a result, Phase 2 of BRIDGE NY 

23          was allocated an additional $50 million, 

24          bringing the two-year funding total for 

                                                                  445

 1          Phase 2 to $250 million, with $50 million 

 2          of that amount to fund culverts.  We 

 3          greatly appreciate the Legislature and 

 4          Governor agreeing to the increase in the 

 5          final budget.  

 6                 Our associations are working with 

 7          NYSDOT on evaluating the success of Phase 1 

 8          and, if necessary, will be urging 

 9          improvements in the program that can be 

10          implemented as part of phase two.

11                 The need is well documented.  

12          According to New York State DOT's latest 

13          annual Highway Pavement and Bridge 

14          Condition Report, an additional 360 bridges 

15          became deficient between 2013 and 2015 as 

16          the number of deficient bridges jumped from 

17          5,542 to a high of 5,902.  To be clear, 

18          pavement and bridge conditions in our state 

19          are getting worse.  Every single region in 

20          the state saw an increase in poorly rated 

21          bridges over the past two years.

22                 We've conducted our own study of the 

23          local transportation system.  The analysis 

24          determined that on average, local 

                                                                  446

 1          governments, excluding New York City, 

 2          should be spending $2.32 billion annually 

 3          on their highways and bridges.  Currently 

 4          these municipalities spend about $1 billion 

 5          annually on these facilities, leaving an 

 6          annual shortfall of $1.32 billion, 

 7          according to the State Comptroller.

 8                 Conclusion.  In previous years, even 

 9          in tough economic times, the Legislature 

10          has responded to the dire conditions of the 

11          state's transportation systems and 

12          augmented CHIPS and other local 

13          transportation funding, but more is 

14          required to help address the deteriorating 

15          conditions of many of our local 

16          transportation system's infrastructure and 

17          make significant progress in its 

18          rehabilitation.  As such, we ask that you 

19          support a $150 million increase in the 

20          CHIPS base in the 2018-2019 budget.

21                 We recognize the challenges you face 

22          in finding the resources to address the 

23          needs of the vast, aging, and deteriorating 

24          state and local infrastructure.  Drinking 

                                                                  447

 1          water supplies, sewer systems, flood 

 2          control, and the upstate and downstate 

 3          transit systems have all had critical 

 4          problems due in part to underinvestment and 

 5          deferred maintenance.  

 6                 The Governor already committed to 

 7          seeking an additional $836 million for the 

 8          MTA to help fund a Phase 1 New York City 

 9          subway stabilization plan, and proposed 

10          meeting half this commitment in the 

11          Executive Budget, money that will be spent 

12          in just one region of the state.  Should 

13          there be an increase in MTA funding in this 

14          next budget, the reestablishment of parity 

15          between the MTA and New York State DOT that 

16          many of you successfully fought for should 

17          mean a comparable funding boost in the 

18          New York State DOT plan, which would 

19          certainly provide an opportunity to enhance 

20          local transportation programs.

21                 We are looking forward to working 

22          with you again in this state budget process 

23          and during the legislative session.  Our 

24          associations and the mutual constituencies 

                                                                  448

 1          and communities we serve appreciate the 

 2          support of our state elected officials, who 

 3          partner with us to ensure we all get the 

 4          job done when it comes to providing the 

 5          public with a safe, functional statewide 

 6          transportation system, one that supports 

 7          jobs and economic growth for our 

 8          communities.

 9                 Thank you.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

12                 And I just want to say thank you for 

13          all your testimony today, and also to all 

14          of your membership, because they do such a 

15          phenomenal job and we appreciate everything 

16          they do keep the roadways safe and 

17          operating.  So thank you so much.

18                 MR. BONESTEEL:  Thank you.

19                 MR. MEYER:  Thank you.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

21                 Next is, from the AAA of New York 

22          State, Alec Slatky, government relations 

23          liaison.

24                 MR. SLATKY:  All right.  Good 

                                                                  449

 1          afternoon, everyone.  My name is Alec 

 2          Slatky.  I'm here representing AAA New York 

 3          State, a federation of the four independent 

 4          AAA clubs in New York which collectively 

 5          serve over 2.7 million members.

 6                 Thanks to the staff for organizing 

 7          this hearing and to the members that are 

 8          still here for sticking around.

 9                 I distributed my testimony; feel 

10          free to read it at your leisure.  It makes 

11          some bedtime reading, it will definitely 

12          put you to sleep.  But I will summarize it 

13          here just so it won't put you to sleep -- 

14          it's very exciting.

15                 I want to touch on a couple of 

16          issues.  Congestion pricing I know is not 

17          legislatively in the budget right now, but 

18          I did want to talk about it because I know 

19          it will be part of discussions.  Rear seat 

20          belt requirements, school bus and railroad 

21          crossing photo enforcement and, if I get to 

22          it, distracted driving.

23                 So just on congestion pricing, and 

24          I'll be brief, I know the Fix NYC report 

                                                                  450

 1          came out and it's not necessarily the 

 2          proposal of any particular elected 

 3          official, but we do have concerns with the 

 4          proposal as presented, specifically that it 

 5          would institute a charge to drive into 

 6          Manhattan's central business district, 

 7          charging drivers up to $1 billion a year in 

 8          tolls, with none of that money going into 

 9          road and bridge improvements and without 

10          commensurate reductions in outer borough 

11          bridge tolls, where drivers have been 

12          subsidizing the mass transit system without 

13          realistic transit alternatives for about 

14          50 years.  And it would certainly be a 

15          burden to many outer borough Long Island, 

16          Hudson Valley commuters -- and commuters 

17          from Manhattan as well that are working and 

18          middle-class.

19                 So we have concerns about that, but 

20          we know that there's going to be ongoing 

21          negotiations, and we certainly hope that 

22          you will consider the drivers who will be 

23          paying these fees should get something in 

24          return if anything is to be passed.

                                                                  451

 1                 I'll talk a little more about rear 

 2          seat belts.  Rear seat belts have been a 

 3          priority issue for AAA for some time.  As 

 4          you may know, in New York State we had the 

 5          first seat belt law in the country back in 

 6          1984, so we were ahead of the curve then.  

 7                 We're behind the curve now.  Most 

 8          states have a rear seat belt law, but in 

 9          New York it only goes up to age 15.  Once 

10          you turn 16, you no longer have to wear 

11          that seat belt in the back seat, and that 

12          really has led to some tragic results.  

13          Because we know rear seat belts make 

14          everyone safer.  If you don't wear a seat 

15          belt in the back, you're three times more 

16          likely to be killed, eight times more 

17          likely to be seriously injured, and twice 

18          as likely to kill a front seat passenger by 

19          becoming a projectile in a crash or a, 

20          quote unquote, back seat bullet.  

21                 And we analyzed data in New York 

22          from 1995 to 2014, and we found that over 

23          that time, 886 unbelted adult rear seat 

24          occupants were killed in crashes, including 

                                                                  452

 1          at least one in each county in the state.  

 2          And it really is contributed to largely by 

 3          the lack of a seat belt law.  Because if 

 4          you look at the age when the law no longer 

 5          goes into effect -- and this is on page 3 a 

 6          little, a chart -- that's really when the 

 7          fatalities spike.  Sixteen-to-18-year-olds, 

 8          that three-year age group, had nearly four 

 9          times as many fatalities as did 

10          13-to-15-year-olds, largely in part because 

11          they didn't wear their seat belts nearly at 

12          the same frequency.  

13                 And in fact that three-year age 

14          group had a quarter of all the fatalities 

15          among adults 16 and over, and in our view 

16          it doesn't make sense that the law should 

17          expire right when children are most 

18          vulnerable of being killed, unbelted, in 

19          the crash.  

20                 The last year of full data that we 

21          have is 2016, and in that year there were 

22          26 unbelted rear seat occupants that were 

23          are 16 and up that were killed in crashes, 

24          compared to only four belted rear seat 

                                                                  453

 1          occupants that were killed.  And the 

 2          numbers look at least that high based on 

 3          the preliminary data in 2017.  

 4                 And we know passing a seat belt law 

 5          will increase usage, it will save lives, it 

 6          will prevent injuries.  Voters in New York 

 7          support it.  A survey that we did found 

 8          that 68 percent of New York drivers support 

 9          a rear seat belt law, compared with only 

10          15 percent who oppose it.  So we'd 

11          certainly urge both the houses of the 

12          Legislature to support that proposal of the 

13          Governor's.  

14                 I'll talk briefly about the school 

15          bus stop-arm cameras and railroad crossing 

16          cameras.  We support both of those 

17          initiatives, as we have supported red light 

18          camera programs and school zone speed 

19          camera programs throughout the state.  

20                 We would respectfully suggest a few 

21          amendments to make sure that the programs 

22          are as effective as possible, because we've 

23          seen some programs in New York that have 

24          actually gone away due to concerns about 

                                                                  454

 1          revenue.  In Nassau County, their school 

 2          zone speed camera program was ended after 

 3          public outcry.  Rochester ended its red 

 4          light camera program at the end of 2016 due 

 5          to concern about impact on low-income 

 6          residents.  

 7                 So we would suggest, as a number-one 

 8          priority, to make sure this is true for all 

 9          automated enforcement:  Put that money back 

10          into traffic safety.  That way nobody can 

11          reasonably argue that it's about anything 

12          besides traffic safety.

13                 We'd also suggest including a 

14          statute of limitations that's in speed 

15          camera legislation but not red light camera 

16          legislation right now, and that would say 

17          you have to mail the notice of liability 

18          within 14 days or 45 days for an 

19          out-of-state resident.  

20                 For the railroad crossing cameras, 

21          we would suggest requiring videotape as 

22          well as images.  The school bus cameras do 

23          require videotape in the language, so we're 

24          glad to see that.  

                                                                  455

 1                 And amending some of the reporting 

 2          requirements to make sure we have crash 

 3          data from before and after for a good chunk 

 4          of -- maybe three or five years, enough to 

 5          do a real good engineering analysis.  And 

 6          we suggest making them a pilot program.  I 

 7          know it's kind of farcical in some ways 

 8          that New York City's red light camera 

 9          program is still a pilot program, 

10          technically, even though the legislation 

11          authorizing it was passed in 1988.  

12                 But I do think it is appropriate for 

13          the State Legislature to have some 

14          oversight over these camera programs, so we 

15          would suggest making these a five-year 

16          pilot program for each and then, if you 

17          wanted to make it permanent after that 

18          time, you can do so.

19                 And there are a couple of distracted 

20          driving amendments here.  One would 

21          prohibit cellphone use, including 

22          hands-free use, for drivers under 18.  We 

23          support that because we know young drivers 

24          are particularly dangerous on the road to 

                                                                  456

 1          begin with, and particularly susceptible to 

 2          the deleterious effects of cognitive 

 3          distraction that can be caused by a 

 4          hands-free phone.  

 5                 And we also support the amendment 

 6          that tweaks the texting and driving law.  

 7          Because right now it's illegal if you are 

 8          holding a phone and using it, but it's not 

 9          illegal if you're not holding the phone.  

10          So if the phone is in your lap and you're 

11          just typing away on it, that is not 

12          technically illegal right now.  And so we 

13          would support that change in the law.

14                 Thank you for your time, and I'd be 

15          happy to take any questions.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  All right.  

17                 I have a quick question about the 

18          comments where you just spoke about in 

19          terms of changing the definition of using 

20          the phone.  

21                 If this were to become adopted as 

22          part of the budget, do you think that that 

23          would mean that the current use by drivers 

24          that get calls by apps such as Uber or Lyft 

                                                                  457

 1          would be prohibited from using those 

 2          services -- would be in violation if they 

 3          were to use those service?

 4                 MR. SLATKY:  I would have to take 

 5          another close look at the language.  I know 

 6          that it does exempt GPS systems in 

 7          particular, not necessarily phone uses as 

 8          GPS.  

 9                 I would have to take another look at 

10          the language, and it's possible that it 

11          could be tweaked to make sure that folks 

12          that are using it on the road wouldn't, in 

13          that capacity -- might not be in violation 

14          of the law.  But also, you want to make 

15          sure that they're actually using it in a 

16          manner that is safe.  So I will have to 

17          take another look at that.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  I might argue 

19          that there shouldn't be an exemption for 

20          someone who's constantly doing that.  

21                 And do you think that this also 

22          would apply to in-car systems of texting?

23                 MR. SLATKY:  I was taking a look at 

24          the language -- I don't think it would 

                                                                  458

 1          apply to in-car systems.  But I'd be 

 2          definitely happy to take another look at 

 3          that and circle back with our folks down 

 4          and across the state and see what they 

 5          think.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  And we'd like 

 7          to -- not only -- obviously we will look 

 8          ourselves, but I was curious if you had -- 

 9          if AAA has a position about drivers using 

10          systems like that.

11                 MR. SLATKY:  We don't necessarily 

12          think it should be illegal.  We do always 

13          try to remind drivers that hands-free is 

14          not risk-free.  And a lot of these systems 

15          can even be more cognitively distracting 

16          than just talking on a cellphone, because 

17          if you have to give a voice command into a 

18          system, sometimes that actually leads to 

19          extra distractions.

20                 But we don't necessarily think 

21          that's something that should be illegal.  

22          But we'd want to take a close look at the 

23          language again.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

                                                                  459

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 2                 I want to say that I appreciate your 

 3          focus on safety, and you brought up several 

 4          excellent points.  And this is good 

 5          information, actually, and some of the 

 6          statistics that you have brought up are 

 7          eye-opening.

 8                 I want to thank you especially for 

 9          your support of school bus stop-arm 

10          cameras.  I have had a bill on that for a 

11          few years, and it seems to have been 

12          stalled.  But I commend the Governor 

13          because, as you know, as you pointed out, 

14          he included it in his proposal.  

15                 So your advice is good to look at 

16          it, to see if it needs to be amended or 

17          tweaked a little bit, and we will be doing 

18          that.  But thank you for all that you do.

19                 MR. SLATKY:  Absolutely.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

21                 Diane?

22                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.  Yes, 

23          thank you for your testimony.

24                 I want to follow up on the 

                                                                  460

 1          discussion you had with Assemblywoman 

 2          Weinstein.  So because technology changes 

 3          so rapidly these days -- I just got a new 

 4          car, it's a month old, it's a 2018.  And 

 5          the vehicle has several apps already loaded 

 6          into it.  One of them is called Android 

 7          Autoplay, and there's also an app for Apple 

 8          Autoplay.  So you can take your phone, you 

 9          plug it in, and now your phone is on your 

10          screen.  And on there is Google Maps -- 

11          everything comes right up, including the 

12          streaming of music, and I can press a 

13          button and say "send a text message."

14                 So everything I'm doing is using my 

15          phone, hands-free.  So if we go forward 

16          with this proposal to limit the use for 

17          18-year-olds -- and believe me, I totally 

18          understand the need for restricting 

19          access -- how would we have law enforcement 

20          interpret this?  Are you in fact using a 

21          hands-free model when you're using the 

22          phone system that's now built into new 

23          cars, that literally turns your car into 

24          your phone?

                                                                  461

 1                 MR. SLATKY:  I think that in all 

 2          likelihood, if it is through the phone, 

 3          that would probably be considered a 

 4          hands-free use.  I think the definition 

 5          that they have is engaging in a call.  So 

 6          they don't apply -- the language in the law 

 7          doesn't apply it to personal electronic 

 8          device use or the texting and driving law, 

 9          but it only applies to actually engaging in 

10          a call.

11                 SENATOR SAVINO:  But again, you 

12          don't need to touch your phone to make a 

13          phone call even now, under last year's 

14          technology.  Bluetooth allows you to press 

15          the volume button on your steering wheel 

16          and say "Call Cathy Young," and the car 

17          will dial it for you and you can have a 

18          conversation without ever taking your hands 

19          off the wheel.  So you're still using the 

20          hands-free phone.  

21                 I'm just concerned that we're going 

22          to go forward with something that's 

23          impossible to interpret and impossible to 

24          enforce simply because the car is way ahead 

                                                                  462

 1          of the legislation.

 2                 MR. SLATKY:  I would concede that 

 3          enforcement of this particular law is 

 4          difficult.  But I think we envision this 

 5          law, you know, partially in the lens of 

 6          distracted driving, but really also in the 

 7          lens of the graduated driver licensing 

 8          system, just focusing on the 16- and 

 9          17-year-olds.  Because there are other 

10          restrictions in GDL that are hard to 

11          enforce -- a maximum of one passenger 

12          that's under 21, making sure you have a 

13          supervising driver -- and we would view 

14          this as another way to just start off and 

15          remind those children that they need to 

16          start their driving career with those 

17          healthy habits.

18                 SENATOR SAVINO:  On that we agree.  

19                 In a car that's any older than just 

20          two years, you're not going to -- you know, 

21          you don't have as advanced technology.  But 

22          I would think -- I would hope that we're 

23          also talking with auto manufacturers about 

24          a way to maybe disable these applications 

                                                                  463

 1          that are already loaded in the car.  

 2                 Because if not, it's going to be 

 3          impossible to enforce this.  You know, 

 4          young people are far more advanced 

 5          technologically than any of the rest of us.  

 6          I had to go back to the dealer three times 

 7          to figure out how to use this car.  It's 

 8          smarter than I am.  These kids are way 

 9          smarter than we are, because they've grown 

10          up with this.  So I just caution that we 

11          don't move forward enacting legislation 

12          that's impossible to enforce and really 

13          isn't going to solve the problem because 

14          technology's light years ahead of us.

15                 MR. SLATKY:  Yeah, I agree.  And I 

16          think that we've been trying to have 

17          constructive conversations with automakers.  

18                 Our AAA Foundation for Traffic 

19          Safety has done a lot of research into 

20          these in-vehicle systems and what types of 

21          systems are the most distracting and why.  

22          Is it something about the number of steps, 

23          for example, that it takes to perform a 

24          command?  A variety of things about this 

                                                                  464

 1          system that the automakers can take back 

 2          and say we can make this interface as 

 3          minimally distracting as possible, because 

 4          that's the type of advancement and 

 5          constructive conversation that we want to 

 6          have.

 7                 SENATOR SAVINO:  I just wanted to 

 8          make that point.  Thank you.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

10          Byrne.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN BYRNE:  Yes, thank you.

12                 I just wanted to say I appreciate 

13          your comments regarding the seat belt law 

14          that definitely can save lives.  I got in 

15          an accident in a little over a -- well, 

16          more than a year ago, and if I wasn't in a 

17          seat belt, I definitely wouldn't be here 

18          today.  So I can agree with you on that, I 

19          appreciate that.

20                 In your comments regarding the 

21          distracted driving and particularly the 

22          hands-free, not risk-free, I get that.  But 

23          do you have any remarks on the textalyzer 

24          bill legislation that's been put forth 

                                                                  465

 1          before?  I know it's through the assistant 

 2          speaker, Mr. Ortiz, and Senator Murphy has 

 3          one.  Does AAA have any comments on that?  

 4          I'd just be interested to hear.

 5                 MR. SLATKY:  Sure.  I know it's not 

 6          part of this budget, and the Governor's 

 7          Traffic Safety Committee report should be 

 8          out soon.  But we did submit comments to 

 9          them, and we were kind of of two minds, 

10          because it's absolutely true that we have 

11          almost no idea what the actual level of 

12          texting is based on crash reports.  

13                 If you look at crash reports, I 

14          think in 2015 -- that's the stat that I 

15          remember -- there were 70 crashes on 

16          New York roads that were listed as having 

17          texting as a contributing factor.  Not 

18          70 fatal crashes, not 70 injury crashes, 

19          70 crashes.  That's almost -- that's about 

20          once a week.  That's obviously not true.

21                 So we don't really have that data 

22          that's good from crash reports.  And I 

23          understand the need to get better data.  

24                 On the other hand, there are 

                                                                  466

 1          technical issues with the way our law is 

 2          written and how you would actually enforce 

 3          that in a court of law.  

 4                 So what we had suggested is having a 

 5          pilot program and limiting it to fatal and 

 6          serious injury crashes.  We want to put it 

 7          as a tool for law enforcement if there is a 

 8          fatal or serious injury crash, and they're 

 9          going to do a full investigation as well.  

10          That way, if they have something that's 

11          time-stamped at a certain time, they'd be 

12          able to say "This person was on the road at 

13          that time, and they were moving."  

14                 Otherwise, if you don't do that full 

15          investigation and you say "This person was 

16          texting five minutes before the crash" -- 

17          okay, well, were they in a parking lot?  

18          Were they in a store?  Were they stopped at 

19          a light, or were they actually moving?  And 

20          only one of those is actually illegal 

21          behavior.

22                 So we would support limiting that 

23          pilot program to just the crashes where 

24          police officers are going to do a full 

                                                                  467

 1          investigation and you can actually use that 

 2          information.  

 3                 But there are, I think, a lot of 

 4          technical hurdles.  The technology 

 5          definitely needs to be vetted more before 

 6          we would support moving forward with it.  I 

 7          think the idea is a good one, but there are 

 8          really a lot of questions that would need 

 9          to be answered before we could dive 

10          headfirst -- I'm not sure that we could go 

11          all the way to every single crash.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN BYRNE:  Good.  Thank 

13          you.

14                 And I appreciate those comments.  

15          I've been a general supporter of the 

16          proposal, but I understand some of those 

17          concerns and other things with privacy and 

18          implementation.  But ideally, if we were 

19          able to get -- move that forward, as you 

20          suggest, we could get more data from it and 

21          law enforcement wouldn't have to go through 

22          the added hurdles of trying to get 

23          different records from phone companies and 

24          other providers like that.

                                                                  468

 1                 Oh, and just one extra comment too.  

 2          It's always just better to not text and 

 3          drive, right?  We have the AT&T's "It Can 

 4          Wait" app, so -- that's a subtle plug.

 5                 Okay, thank you.

 6                 MR. SLATKY:  Yes, sir.  Thank you.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

 8          your testimony.

 9                 MR. SLATKY:  Thanks a lot.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Next we have 

12          Scott Wigger, executive director, Railroads 

13          of New York.

14                 MR. WIGGER:  Hello.  Good afternoon.  

15          My name is Scott Wigger.  I am executive 

16          director for the Railroads of New York.  

17          We're a statewide association that 

18          represents the freight rail industry here 

19          in New York State.  

20                 I want to thank the chairs and the 

21          members for inviting me to testify here 

22          today, and in the interests of time I will 

23          just summarize my testimony.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

                                                                  469

 1                 MR. WIGGER:  RONY represents four 

 2          Class 1 railroads here in the state:  CSX, 

 3          Canadian Pacific, Canadian National, and 

 4          Norfolk Southern, and 35 short line and 

 5          regional railroads.  We're also supported 

 6          by dozens of non-railroad members such as 

 7          contractors, material suppliers, IDAs, 

 8          insurance providers, and together we all 

 9          form the organization.

10                 Included in the Governor's Executive 

11          Budget proposal is $27.5 million for the 

12          freight rail infrastructure capital 

13          program, which we wish to thank him for 

14          including in the budget.  This represents 

15          the same amount of funding that was 

16          included last year as well.  This funding 

17          is very important to our members, 

18          particularly our smaller members who rely 

19          on these funds to keep their systems in a 

20          state of good repair and to also promote 

21          economic development activities across the 

22          state, either by helping existing customers 

23          by enhancing the rail service they get or 

24          by providing new service to customers who 

                                                                  470

 1          are looking for rail connections.

 2                 Going forward, we'd like to request 

 3          that we continue building on this.  Back in 

 4          the 2010-2012 fiscal years, this program 

 5          was zeroed out.  All money was instead 

 6          directed towards high-speed rail programs.  

 7          So I wish to thank you in the Legislature 

 8          as well as the Governor's office for 

 9          helping to reestablish this very important 

10          program and to help build it back up to 

11          where it is now.

12                 Going forward, we'd like to continue 

13          to build on the success of this program and 

14          eventually get it up to a $50 million 

15          annual level.  We feel this is the 

16          appropriate amount for this program, and 

17          this represents the same amount this 

18          program was funded at during the 2005-2010 

19          bond act years.  

20                 Aside from that, one other request 

21          we have for consideration in this year's 

22          budget is corrective legislation that would 

23          address technical concerns we had with the 

24          Governor's program bill on railroad safety 

                                                                  471

 1          that was passed and signed into law in 

 2          2016.  

 3                 Us and our members, we completely 

 4          were in agreement with the intent of this 

 5          legislation.  Safety always is and always 

 6          has been our first and foremost priority 

 7          for our rail members.  These amendments, we 

 8          view them in their technical nature.  And 

 9          particularly with the bridge reporting 

10          requirements, we want to conform that with 

11          the 2015 federal FAST Act law that was 

12          passed.  

13                 So that is what our requests are for 

14          this budget year, and I thank you for the 

15          time here.  And I am open to any questions 

16          you may have.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

18          being here, and obviously your full 

19          statement will be part of the official 

20          transcript.  Thank you.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you so 

22          much.  We appreciate it.

23                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

24                 MR. WIGGER:  Thank you very much.

                                                                  472

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Next we have 

 2          Lee Weitz, deputy director of New York 

 3          Aviation Management Association.

 4                 MR. WEITZ:  Good afternoon.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Good 

 6          afternoon.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Good afternoon.

 8                 MR. WEITZ:  Thank you, Chairperson 

 9          Young and Chairperson Weinstein and members 

10          of the Senate and Assembly fiscal 

11          committees.  I am Lee Weitz, president of 

12          the New York Aviation Management 

13          Association, and I'm also the deputy 

14          director of aviation for the Niagara 

15          Frontier Transportation Authority, which 

16          operates both in Buffalo and in Niagara 

17          Falls International Airports.  We 

18          appreciate the opportunity to provide input 

19          to you on the 2018-2019 Executive Budget as 

20          it relates to airports and the aviation 

21          industry in New York.

22                 NYAMA represents over 13,000 members 

23          and affiliate members, 120 commercial 

24          airports, fixed-based operators, 

                                                                  473

 1          consultants, engineers and other aviation 

 2          industries and professionals who believe 

 3          that serious economic development efforts 

 4          at the state and regional level 

 5          necessitates strong public investment in 

 6          our aviation assets and facilities.

 7                 I would like to take a moment to 

 8          thank you and all the members of the 

 9          Legislature for enacting significant 

10          initiatives as part of the 2017-2018 budget 

11          to bolster state investments in airports.  

12          The additional Aviation Capital Grant 

13          Program funding and the ongoing Upstate 

14          Airport Economic Development and 

15          Revitalization Competition represent a 

16          significant increase in the state's 

17          commitment to addressing the critical 

18          maintenance and modernization needs of all 

19          airports, both big and small.

20                 And I'll really summarize -- of 

21          course you have my whole testimony, so you 

22          can read through it, but I'll really 

23          summarize it as really three pieces to my 

24          testimony.  

                                                                  474

 1                 There's the State Aviation Capital 

 2          Grant Program.  For the past two years, it 

 3          was funded at $22.5 million.  For the new 

 4          budget, in 2018-2019, it's funded at 

 5          $12.5 million, a $10 million reduction for 

 6          all the airports across New York State.  

 7          Obviously this is critical capital that is 

 8          needed for all the airports that are 

 9          eligible for this Aviation Capital Grant 

10          Program, and we encourage the Legislature 

11          to support raising this back up to 

12          $22.5 million.  Our goal would be to get to 

13          $40 million a year for this program, but 

14          we'd love to see it go back to the 

15          $22.5 million that it's been at the last 

16          two years.

17                 There was 29 airports that shared 

18          that $22.5 million under the Aviation 

19          Capital Grant Program for the 2016 and 2017 

20          awards, but there was a lot of airports, 

21          there was 71 airports that obviously bid on 

22          these projects.  And obviously, you can see 

23          over 40 were left out and didn't get any 

24          capital funding for the year.

                                                                  475

 1                 The second piece is the Airport 

 2          Improvement Program fund transfer.  It's 

 3          important to note that part of the monies 

 4          for the State Aviation Capital Grant 

 5          program is also discounted due to the 

 6          underfunding of the state matching program, 

 7          which is the AIP federal grant program.  So 

 8          it's normally funded at -- and again, for 

 9          2018-2019, it's funded at $4 million.  It 

10          normally takes between $6 and $7 million to 

11          fully fund the state match for the federal 

12          program, so we would ask the Legislature to 

13          please look at funding this back at 

14          $6 million for the 2018-2019 budget.

15                 One of the most transformative 

16          aviation initiatives in the last few years 

17          has been the Upstate Airport Economic 

18          Development and Revitalization Competition 

19          that was part of the state fiscal year 

20          2016-2017 budget.  And there has been four 

21          awards so far, as you probably know:  

22          Rochester, Plattsburgh, Elmira, and 

23          Syracuse airports received a total of $154 

24          million out of this competition.  

                                                                  476

 1                 The total competition was $190 

 2          million.  There's still over $36 million 

 3          left of that competition, and we expect the 

 4          final award could be made soon.  And we 

 5          urge your consideration be given to funding 

 6          Round 2 of this program going forward; 

 7          there's other needs throughout New York 

 8          State for airport investment.  

 9                 In conclusion, I would just like to 

10          say that NYAMA and its members support your 

11          efforts to ensure that the state pursues 

12          policies that are pro-growth and pro-job 

13          creation.  A strong state investment in our 

14          airports is one of these winning 

15          strategies.  NYAMA looks forward to 

16          continuing to work with you individually 

17          and through the 130-member New York 

18          Legislative Aviation Caucus cochaired by 

19          Senator Phil Boyle and Assemblymember Donna 

20          Lupardo, to ensure that significant 

21          infrastructure funding reaches airports 

22          that need the support, enhances aviation 

23          business development, creates new and 

24          permanent jobs, and improves the state's 

                                                                  477

 1          economy. 

 2                 Thank you very much.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  All right.  

 4          Thank you for being here, and as I 

 5          mentioned earlier, your full testimony is 

 6          part of the record.  If we have any further 

 7          questions, we'll be sure to reach out to 

 8          you.

 9                 MR. WEITZ:  Okay.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  We 

11          really appreciate it.

12                 MR. WEITZ:  Thanks.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Next we have 

14          Robert Puckett, president of the New York 

15          State Telecommunications Association.

16                 MR. PUCKETT:  Thank you, Chair 

17          Weinstein and Chairman Young, and thanks to 

18          those who are still here on the panel.  I 

19          know it's been a long day, so I'll try to 

20          be even shorter than everybody else.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

22          waiting for everybody else.

23                 MR. PUCKETT:  Sure.  And I'll also 

24          try to respond to some of the thoughtful 

                                                                  478

 1          questions that were put forth to DOT in my 

 2          testimony.  

 3                 For those who haven't met me, my 

 4          name is Bob Puckett, president of the New 

 5          York State Telecommunications Association.  

 6          We were established in 1921 to represent 

 7          the industry.  A lot has changed since 

 8          then, certainly.

 9                 I'll be specifically talking about 

10          Part F of the budget that there was some 

11          discussion from DOT on earlier.  There's 

12          two sections in that I'd like to address.  

13          One of them deals with small cell siting 

14          and establishes a process for small cell 

15          siting.  

16                 And small cell is the newest 

17          wireless technology that will bring 5G 

18          wireless to the state, and it will 

19          certainly enhance the wireless network.  It 

20          will be used both as a wireless platform 

21          but also a fixed wireless platform, so it 

22          could provide high-speed broadband to homes 

23          and residences.  And we support that part 

24          of Part F.  

                                                                  479

 1                 Unfortunately, the other proposal in 

 2          Part F by DOT is the establishment of a new 

 3          fiber optic utility fee to occupy the 

 4          state's rights-of-way.  Now, it's literally 

 5          meaning that telephone companies, cable 

 6          companies, wireless companies, internet 

 7          backhaul companies, all who are deploying 

 8          fiber all over the state would be assessed 

 9          this new fee to occupy the rights-of-way.  

10                 Now, if I may, back in the early 

11          part of the 20th century, statutes were 

12          passed that allowed telephone corporations 

13          and electric companies to occupy the state 

14          right-of-ways without a fee, and the reason 

15          the state did that was to incent the 

16          buildout of the telephone network and the 

17          electric grid back in the early parts of 

18          the 20th century.  

19                 Well, fast forward to today, and 

20          we're back at the same point in time of now 

21          the issue is broadband deployment.  And I'm 

22          sure you've all dealt with your 

23          constituents regarding deployment of 

24          broadband and the need for more broadband 

                                                                  480

 1          in more areas of the state.  

 2                 So this new fee we certainly oppose.  

 3          And given that in statute it's illegal to 

 4          charge us to occupy the right-of-way, I 

 5          wonder sometimes is that why they use the 

 6          term "fiber optic utility."  It's an 

 7          undefined term in law today.

 8                 So we do oppose that part of the 

 9          proposal.  We think, if anything, that will 

10          be a disincentive to bringing broadband --  

11          more broadband, more fiber-based 

12          broadband -- throughout the state to 

13          consumers and businesses and hurts the 

14          state's economic development efforts.  

15                 Now to a question I think you had, 

16          Senator Young, earlier of DOT.  You 

17          mentioned what does this do to the state 

18          broadband projects, and isn't that a 

19          disincentive.  And you all have supported 

20          that as recognition of the need to again -- 

21          to improve the broadband status of New York 

22          State.  And they stated that they would be 

23          excluded from this fee.  

24                 It's important to know that the 

                                                                  481

 1          broadband projects underway under the 

 2          broadband program only will serve 3 percent 

 3          of the housing units in New York State.  So 

 4          as the gentleman said, there's fiber optics 

 5          going up all over the state.  Well, 

 6          that's -- it's a big state, and so 

 7          excluding the, three percent really, to us, 

 8          is infinitesimal.  So that's primarily many 

 9          of the reasons we oppose the proposal.

10                 And they also state, as they stated 

11          earlier to a question, that you couldn't 

12          pass these fees on to customers -- which 

13          again is another disincentive.  Why would I 

14          invest in New York if I'm charged something 

15          and I have no way to recover that cost from 

16          my consumers?  It really doesn't make sense 

17          to us.

18                 And of course they mentioned that 

19          they did want to understand who's going 

20          into the rights-of-way.  We currently file 

21          for permits to build in the state 

22          rights-of-way with the State DOT.  They 

23          have to approve those permits to allow us 

24          to work in the right-of-way.  So there is a 

                                                                  482

 1          permitting process to keep track of who's 

 2          in the right-of-way and when and what 

 3          they're building and what safety issues 

 4          there may be and things like that.

 5                 So there was also some discussion 

 6          about the municipal governments involved in 

 7          the small cell process, an interest in 

 8          keeping local governments involved -- the 

 9          part of the budget that deals with that, it 

10          still involves local government 

11          involvement.  It just sets a statewide 

12          process, parameters on how to do that.  So 

13          local governments will still play a role in 

14          that.

15                 And with that, I'll certainly answer 

16          any questions that any of you might have, 

17          and I certainly want to thank you for your 

18          questions earlier to DOT.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

20          Mr. Puckett.  I had a couple of follow-up 

21          questions.  

22                 MR. PUCKETT:  Sure.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So the revenues 

24          generated off this fee, which we know is 

                                                                  483

 1          really a tax, they feel would go up to as 

 2          much as $50 million annually.

 3                 MR. PUCKETT:  Right.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And so you're 

 5          telling us that there already is an 

 6          application process in place --

 7                 MR. PUCKETT:  Yes.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  -- that's 

 9          administered by the department.

10                 MR. PUCKETT:  Yes.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  That's where they 

12          can look and see where projects are going 

13          and keep tabs on those, that's --

14                 MR. PUCKETT:  Yes.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  -- right?

16                 So I asked what the $50 million 

17          would go for, and they didn't really 

18          answer.

19                 MR. PUCKETT:  It would go into the 

20          highway fund for road and bridge work.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So it's not 

22          really associated at all with the broadband 

23          and,  you know, making sure that it goes in 

24          the right spot on the right-of-way and that 

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 1          kind of thing.

 2                 MR. PUCKETT:  And I believe the same 

 3          arguments for why they want to do this -- 

 4          well, then, why isn't electric included in 

 5          their proposal?

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Right.

 7                 MR. PUCKETT:  They're in the state 

 8          highway right-of-way.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Right.  But it's 

10          a disincentive, as you pointed out, for 

11          companies to invest in New York.  

12                 And what we face in rural areas such 

13          as mine, but all across the state, is a 

14          real lack of broadband service.  And it's 

15          put upstate New York at a true disadvantage 

16          from an economic standpoint, being able to 

17          develop.  And also people wanting to live 

18          in some of the outlying areas for the 

19          quality of life, but broadband is so much a 

20          part of that now that it's a real killer as 

21          far as people wanting to live in a rural 

22          area.

23                 So I appreciate your comments very 

24          much.  And as you know, our conference has 

                                                                  485

 1          been very against all the fee increases 

 2          that are included in the Executive 

 3          proposal, so we'll continue to work on 

 4          this.

 5                 MR. PUCKETT:  Thank you.  Appreciate 

 6          that.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

 9          being here.

10                 MR. PUCKETT:  Thank you.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Our next and 

12          final witness for the transportation 

13          hearing is William Carpenter, president of 

14          the New York Public Transit Association.

15                 MR. CARPENTER:  If we do this in 

16          four hours, we'll be out of here at 9:00.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Well, we have 

18          the room, so --

19                 MR. CARPENTER:  Good afternoon, 

20          Chairman Weinstein and Chairman Young.  I 

21          very much appreciate the opportunity for 

22          the New York Public Transit Association to 

23          provide testimony.  

24                 My name is Bill Carpenter.  I'm the 

                                                                  486

 1          chief executive officer for the 

 2          Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation 

 3          Authority and also president of NYPTA.

 4                 I'm really here representing 

 5          customers whose voices are not often heard.  

 6          We heard testimony earlier today and 

 7          questions on responses about the Summer 

 8          from Hell in New York City.  The problem is 

 9          transit is having problems across the 

10          state.  And I'm here to represent those 

11          other customers -- the customer that's 

12          trying to balance access to daycare, 

13          getting to work, stopping at a grocery 

14          store so there's food on the table -- with 

15          systems that are having to either reduce 

16          their hours, cut back on the frequency of 

17          service, or in other areas, other 

18          routes where the buses are so full that 

19          they have to wait for the next bus to come, 

20          looking at having to change their daycare 

21          because they can't get there before it 

22          closes -- making those kinds of changes, 

23          getting a lifestyle of health from their 

24          public transit system as opposed to having 

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 1          built their life, chosen workplaces, chosen 

 2          where all those services are provided.

 3                 What we're seeing as jobs are being 

 4          located further and further from the urban 

 5          core are bus systems that can't afford to 

 6          get there frequently.  And while there's 

 7          been some good funding the last number of 

 8          years, the level of funding has not kept 

 9          pace with increased expectations of senior 

10          citizens who want to age at home, 

11          millennials who want to live in a system 

12          that's robust enough where they don't need 

13          a car, and healthcare access that's 

14          required for more and more people.  

15                 Meeting all those demands as well as 

16          technological changes -- all of you use 

17          Uber and Lyft, and you watch that vehicle 

18          arrive at your door.  We have systems that 

19          can't afford to have the bus provide that 

20          type of application, fare payments that are 

21          not readily available like other larger 

22          city systems -- but people have those 

23          expectations in our communities.

24                 We're looking for an increase in 

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 1          operating assistance to $50 million:  

 2          $20 million for the upstate transit 

 3          systems, $30 million for the downstate 

 4          non-MTA systems.  We're also looking to 

 5          continue the infrastructure investment that 

 6          the Legislature and the Governor put in 

 7          late in the process last year for the 

 8          non-MTA systems.  

 9                 There was an additional $20 million 

10          of capital added that really, as I heard 

11          Chairman Lhota talk about this morning in 

12          response to a question, they are 

13          pay-as-you-go capital and many of the 

14          systems use that additional $20 million as 

15          a way of operating assistance because we 

16          couldn't get it in operating aid.  That 

17          $20 million is not yet in the final budget.  

18          It was not included in the Executive 

19          Budget.  And we'd look for that to be 

20          restored.

21                 And finally, one of the big issues 

22          is the way Medicaid transportation has 

23          changed over the last few years.  More and 

24          more transportation being provided to 

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 1          Medicaid recipients, but not through public 

 2          transit.  And what you have there is 

 3          someone who has a nice ride to their 

 4          healthcare provider, a nice ride home -- 

 5          and then when they go to get their 

 6          prescription filled, or groceries to have 

 7          food on the table, there's no public 

 8          transit system in their community.  

 9                 We're looking to have the Department 

10          of Health provide $5 million, an amount 

11          pretty similar to what they've done the 

12          last couple of years, so that communities 

13          can maintain that infrastructure of access.  

14          We talk upstate about roads and bridges -- 

15          public transit is the infrastructure, 

16          transit is the infrastructure for access.  

17                 And we appreciate your commitment to 

18          public transit, and we look to answer any 

19          questions.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

21          Mr. Carpenter.  

22                 And I know you and I have had many 

23          good conversations about the disparity in 

24          funding between upstate and downstate 

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 1          transit systems.  So I was very happy to 

 2          help last year, but I know there are many 

 3          challenges ahead, so look forward to 

 4          working with you.

 5                 MR. CARPENTER:  Thank you.  

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

 7          being here.  

 8                 I also want to thank my colleagues 

 9          for being here throughout the hearing.  

10                 And this officially concludes the 

11          Joint Transportation Budget Hearing.  Thank 

12          you.

13                 (Whereupon, at 5:33 p.m., the budget 

14          hearing concluded.)

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