How to waste 10 Years and Billions of Dollars

Today’s headline about the LIRR’s new East Side Access service to Grand Central refers both to the way the project got away from any cost and timeline controls as detailed by former Federal Transit Administration official Larry Penner in these pages yesterday And its unfortunate depth, that can be best reached by a chute rather than the slow, slow escalator. No one should run down.

Do it Least Side Access Oder East Side Excess, there’s little to celebrate as it took two and half times longer to finish and cost at least twice as much as was budgeted. Penn Station commuters have now got fewer trains. And that Penn trip is going to get even worse when Amtrak forces the unneeded and unnecessary closure of the East River tubes for repairs, ignoring the MTA’s pleas that permanent fixes can be done nights and weekends.

We need to learn from NYU’s new comprehensive study on transit costs Five years in the making, this study examines low cost in Scandinavia, medium cost in Italy, high prices in the U.S., and the highest costs at New York City. NYU researchers discovered many ways to dig more economically.

  • Stop overbuilding, such as LIRR’s new terminal instead of using Grand Central’s lower level, with plenty of room, or going extravagant on the Second Ave. subway’s deep stations rather than stops closer to the surface. Gateway should use Penn Station, not a new annexe.

  • It is important to follow international best practices, such as repairing damaged tubes after Sandy.

  • Stop using consultants and turn farming projects over to large multinationals like WSP, AECOM and STV. This privatizes the risk and reduces competition while increasing costs.

  • Increased transparency and cooperation with other agencies. All large FTA projects receive monthly Project Management Oversight contractor reporting. But the paying public doesn’t see the PMOC reports until years later. Make them available immediately.

Gov. Hochul, read the NYU report and let’s save time and money.

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