ALBANY—New York State Comptroller ThomasDiNapoli has issued a report that warns that theMetropolitan Transportation Authority's nextcapital program could face a funding gap of at least $12billion.

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While he notes that the MTA has made significant progress inrepairing and modernizing the regional transit system, a great dealof work remains and financing these capital investments over thenext 20 years will be difficult.

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“Millions of New Yorkers rely on the MTA transit system andwhile it is in far better condition than it was 30 years ago, muchmore needs to be done,” DiNapoli says. “The MTA has to find a wayto finance improvements without putting the financial burden onriders. This can be achieved only by working closely with thefederal government, New York State and New York City to develop along-term financing program and by using resources effectively andefficiently. Otherwise, needed repairs will be pushed even furtherinto the future, and fares and tolls could rise even faster.”

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The State Comptroller says that the MTA's $90 billion in capitalinvestments since 1982 have not been sufficient to keep its transitsystem in a state of good repair. He says the sub-par conditionscould be blamed on the agency not receiving all of the funding ithad sought and cost overruns on large capital projects, such as theEast Side Access job, which is now projected to cost $10.7 billion,double its original estimate.

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The current 2010-2014 capital program had an initial funding gapof $9.9 billion, which was closed mostly by reducing the size ofthe program and by increasing borrowing. Borrowing for the2010-2014 capital program is projected to reach a record $14.8billion, which represents 61% of the program's $24.3-billionestimated cost. Debt service (excluding the cost of the 2015-2019capital program) is forecast to exceed $3 billion by 2018, triplethe level in 2005. That debt service could reach $4.4 billion by2025 if the MTA borrows to fill the funding gap for the 2015-2019capital program, the State Comptroller says.

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The MTA estimates that it will need to invest $26.6 billionduring 2015 through 2019 to maintain and modernize its assets.Billions more will be needed to finish current expansion projects,such as future phases of the Second Avenue Subway.

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John Jordan

John Jordan is a veteran journalist with 36 years of print and digital media experience.