A Busy Week For Transit
It's been a very busy week for transit.
MTA executive directors coming and going; an arbitration panel's voting for a new labor contract; and the re-election of Roger Toussaint as President of Transport Workers Union Local 100.
Below are statements we put out on the outgoing and incoming directors. As you will see, the campaign has good relationships with both MTA leaders. We will miss Katherine Lapp and look forward to working with Lee Sander.
STATEMENT ON RESIGNATION OF
MTA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR KATHERINE LAPP
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Today, MTA Executive Director Katherine Lapp announced that she would resign by the end of December after five years in office.
The Straphangers Campaign would give Ms. Lapp's good marks for her tenure. We have found her open, direct, hardworking and accessible. Whether we agreed with her or not, she listened to our concerns and thoughtfully explained her position on issues from security to ethics to cell phones in the subway.
Among Ms. Lapp's accomplishments, we would note that she:
- encouraged a more open and transparent budget making in response to widespread criticism about the agency's financial reporting - her reforms included issuing a preliminary budget months in advance of final approval;
- ran a successful campaign to win a new $21.3 billion five-year capital rebuilding program in 2005, critical to the continued improvement of the transit system and financed in large part by new taxes and fees;
- convinced the MTA board to wisely invest its surpluses in recent years on worthwhile needs, including pension liabilities, more security, painting all 468 subway stations and a holiday fare bonus program back in 2005; and
- made fare discounts better and more progressive, including insurance for lost or stolen 30-day MetroCards and easier access for low-income New Yorkers to pay-per-ride MetroCard discounts, going from one-free ride for $15 to one free ride for $10.
STATEMENT ON APPOINTMENT OF ELLIOT "LEE" SANDER TO BE
MTA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND CEO
Friday, December 15, 2006
The NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign congratulates Lee Sander on being chosen by Governor-elected Eliot Spitzer to head the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
We have had many chances to work closely with Lee. Under his leadership of the Empire State Transportation Alliance - a coalition of civic, business and labor groups working to improve transportation - ESTA has had a number of key successes. These include helping win legislative passage of two multi-billion dollar, five-year MTA rebuilding programs and voter approval of a multi-billion transportation bond in 2005.
Throughout these efforts, Lee was creative, energetic, committed to improving transportation and able to forge effective and diverse coalitions.
Lee will face many challenges. The MTA faces very large projected deficits in the near future in its operating budgets, starting at $805 million in 2008 and going to $1.8 billion in 2010, A large part of these projections are based on interest payments coming due on the agency's borrowing many billions of dollars for its rebuilding program. Lee will have to find creative ways to meet these deficits while keeping fares and service at affordable and attractive levels.
Among other challenges are:
(1) selling the MTA's Manhattan rail yards to generate top dollar without generating battles with the community;
(2) winning a new five-year, multi-billion capital program in 2010;
(3) working to make the transit system safe and secure in a time of terrorism; and
(4) winning progress on a Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access without taking money away from the "core" rebuilding program of buying new vehicles and repairing infrastructure.
The campaign looks forward to working with Lee. We won't always agree, but we will hopefully find many ways to advance the cause of decent public transportation together.
Posted Dec 21 2006 by Gene Russianoff
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On Tuesday, Mayor Bloomberg laid out ten goals for making New York City a good place to live in the year 2030. By then, the city will have a million more people and our infrastructure will be a quarter century older.
He set up a web site for New Yorkers to offer their opinions. You can get to it by clicking on this link:
The Straphangers Campaign urges you to visit the Mayor's site and express:
- support for the goals to repair transit, expand the subways, and make buses faster; and
- urge that he tame traffic, with such measures cracking down on
illegal parking permits; enforcing the rules of the road; widening streets for walkers; and exploring ways to reduce traffic.
Posted Dec 13 2006 by Gene Russianoff
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Subway Poetry Contest Finalists Perform At Bowery Poetry Club
This past Sunday, finalists in the "Vent Your Inspiration" Subway Poetry Contest performed at the Bowery Poetry Club to a packed house. See NY1 coverage of the event
Corie Feiner’s 'Subway Pastoral' took home the grand prize. All the first and second place poems, poets’ biographies and messages to the MTA can be found at www.ventyourinspiration.org .
Vent Your Inspiration and Straphangers will send the poems to the MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow and Governor-Elect Spitzer with a request for an action plan on all of the issues raised during the contest including: air quality, train and station conditions, service, station, and passenger etiquette.
Stay tuned for a response!
Posted Dec 7 2006 by Neysa Pranger
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