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Rail News: Financials

MTA to sell $500 million in 'green' bonds to fund infrastructure upgrades


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on Feb. 17 will issue its first-ever "green" bonds to raise funds for infrastructure renewal projects at New York City Transit, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad.

The agency expects to net $500 million in proceeds from the bond sale, MTA officials said in a press release. The money will go toward projects on the three railroads that began during the MTA's 2010-2014 capital program.

Also known as climate bonds, green bonds provide a means for raising capital for climate-friendly projects, including transit.

"By leaving their cars at home and embracing mass transit, New Yorkers play a dramatic role in reducing carbon emissions," said MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast. "These bonds recognize the ways in which mass transit and commuters work together to keep carbon out of the atmosphere."

The MTA's green bonds were certified by the Climate Bonds Initiative, an international not-for-profit organization that supports financing for projects aimed at mitigating the impacts of climate change. To be certified, a bond offering needs to meet "rigorous criteria" regarding reporting and transparency and the environmentally-friendly characteristics of underlying assets, MTA officials said.

Eligible projects funded with the bonds need to be clearly identified, and sellers must set up internal processes and controls to ensure tracking of proceeds. Additionally, the issuer must commit to ongoing annual reporting of assets funded with green bond proceeds.

Today, the MTA is launching a targeted marketing campaign aimed at encouraging New Yorkers to consider purchasing the bonds.

The sale of "green" bonds is becoming more prevalent in the transit industry. Earlier this month, the Ontario government issued its second green bond and raised $750 million (in Canadian dollars) to support environmental friendly projects, including two transit-rail initiatives. And in August 2015, Sound Transit sold nearly $1 billion worth of the bonds to fund transportation projects in Seattle and neighboring regions.