(The Center Square) — New York City’s public transit system hasn’t done enough to harden its infrastructure against the impacts of climate change, according to a new report from the state’s top bean counter.
The audit released by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found the Metropolitan Transportation Authority criticized the agency for delays in developing a plan to protect its system of subway, cars, trains and buses from increasingly strong storms.
He cited last week’s storms that inundated some parts of New York City with more than a half foot of rain, causing flash flooding, snarling subway and train service and forcing a terminal area at LaGuardia International Airport to close temporarily.
“Friday’s extreme weather shows how serious and immediate the challenges are for our transit system,” DiNapoli said in a statement.
DiNapoli faults the city’s transit agency for approving capital projects without ensuring they are resistant to flooding and not checking equipment to ensure it can withstand severe weather events, among other issues.
Among the findings in the audit was that the MTA has not fully implemented a key recommendation of the 2009 report by a state commission calling on the agency to develop a climate change adaptation master plan.
The report notes that the transit agency has spent nearly $8 billion of federal funds on resiliency work following Superstorm Sandy but said the climate plan — which is set to be released next year — is more than a decade behind schedule.
“Despite all the time and resources that have been put into this Plan, none of the MTA officials we interviewed mentioned it,” DiNapoli wrote in the report.
The audit recommends that the agency finalize a master plan and ensure that mitigation-related capital projects are completed on time and within budget “to prevent further damage to transit facilities,” among other changes.
Last week’s storms laid bare New York City’s lack of preparedness, with rainfall of up to 2.5 inches per hour in some hardest-hit locations. Roads were closed, cars became submerged under water and buses stalled amid flash flooding. MTA subways and rail lines were suspended or severely delayed, stranding many commuters.
First responders were forced to pull people from stranded cars, subways and basements filled with water amid the deluge.
Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency for New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley on Friday amid the worst flooding.
“This was the kind of rain that was once unimaginable — we called them once-in-a- century storms,” Hochul told reporters on Saturday.
But New York City Mayor Eric Adams has faced backlash for not doing enough early on to warn residents about the potential impacts of the storms and flooding.