MTA Director Heinicke Questions Use of Streetcar Rehab Funds

historic_streetcar.jpgFlickr photo: Ame Otoko
It may be a moot point now that funds are allocated, but MTA Director Malcolm Heinicke today questioned whether the MTA should be spending $18.7 million to enter into an agreement with Brookville Equipment Corporation to refurbish 16 historic streetcars. Some of his comments seemed to echo a Streetsblog piece a few months ago questioning whether those streetcars keep Muni stuck in the past.

"Don’t get me wrong, I love the F Line cars," he said at the MTA Board meeting. "[But] does it make sense to do this? What else could come of this money?" He added that the MTA has a new deficit approaching the same figure as the refurbish, and asked whether it was possible to forestall the project.

The MTA's deputy chief operating officer Samual Lau explained that during summer months the F line ridership "is intensely high" and the refurbish would be "especially helpful for tourist seasons." A public commenter argued it was long overdue and "necessary for the health and safety of everyone who rides the F line."

MTA Chief Financial Officer Sonali Bose chimed in that the grant from the Federal Transit Administration could not be spent on anything else. "These funds were applied for this specific purpose. We’d have to go back to the granting partner and ask that these funds be reallocated."