MTA's $100 Billion problem
Fun Fact: The MTA will have over $100 BILLION liabilities by 2020, but you wont see that anywhere publicly posted.
Their revenue from fares in 2016 totaled $8.5 Billion while taxes and subsidies accounted for $7 Billion in funds. Expenses were $15.7 Billion. So that means in 2016 the MTA broke even on the operations, not bad!
The problem with the income statement, is that it hides the costs that are to come in the future. The easily identifiable liabilities are plainly shown on the Balance Sheet:
But you need to read the notes of the financial statements to see what else is out there, as well as look at the projected non-cash expenses that will be adding to the current liability amounts.
I am not saying this is devastating since a lot of these liabilities are due over the course of 30 years, but these will start creeping into the yearly operating costs and right now there is no funding to cover these expenses let alone the normal operating expense inflation/escalations. And of course, this all assume that after 2020 there will be no more increase in these liabilities which we all know will not be true.
We also have to be aware of the current good times that the MTA is on which might come to end:
1. All time high ridership (fares)
2. All time high of NYC real estate sales tax collections (a big tax revenue source for MTA)
3. Very good stock market returns that are helping fund the underfunded pensions
4. Low interest rates on current bonds being issued.
In the next couple of years something will have to happen:
1. Large increase in fares
2. Large increase in alternative funding (taxes, subsidies, federal support)
3. Large reorganization of payroll costs. (Eliminate non-performing or non-value added positions)
4. Large reform of Post Retirement Benefits
All information contained here is publicly accessible: