The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s capital plan over the next five years could have a funding gap as high as $12 billion, a report released on Thursday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office found.

The report comes several months before the authority which oversees rail, bus, bridge and tunnels in the New York City area, is due to submit a five-year capital plan to state officials for approval.

DiNapoli in a statement said the MTA has made progress in managing the infrastructure of the system in recent years.

But he warned that the authority must find ways to invest in capital improvements without hitting commuters’ wallets.

“The MTA has to find a way to finance improvements without putting the financial burden on riders,” DiNapoli said. “This can be achieved only by working closely with the federal government, New York state and New York City to develop a long-term financing program and by using resources effectively and efficiently. Otherwise, needed repairs will be pushed even further into the future, and fares and tolls could rise even faster.”

Among the more pressing concerns is the heavy debt service burden the MTA has taken on, which the report found is due to surpass $3 billion in the next four yuears, which is three times higher than what it was in 2005.

“Even with biennial fare and toll hikes of 4 percent, debt service as a percentage of total revenue could rise from 16 percent in 2013 to more than 23 percent by 2025,” the report found.

The existing MTA capital program — which runs from 2010 through 2014 — had an initial funding gap of $9.9 billion, and that was closed by reducing the scope of the program and by adding more borrowing.

And despite the level of investment, DiNapoli’s office says a good state of repair for the entire system remains “elusive.”

The authority estimates it will need to spend about $105.7 billion over the next 20 years, including $26.6 in 2015 through 2019.

Even with those projects fully funded, the MTA won’t be able to restore existing assets to a state of good repair at the end of that funding period.

rpt6-2015 by Nick Reisman