New MTA Inspector General
Today, Governor Spitzer announced a new MTA Inspector General. Here's what we had to say:
STATEMENT ON NOMINATION OF BARRY L. KLUGER
TO BE THE MTA INSPECTOR GENERAL
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
We congratulate Barry Kluger on his nomination to be the MTA Inspector General, which was announced today. Mr. Kluger is independently picked by Governor Eliot Spitzer, not the MTA and is subject to ratification by the State Senate.
The NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign believes that this post is vital in assuring effective and honest delivery of services to the daily millions of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority customers. It is intended to be a "check and balance" on the MTA. We think it's a dream job.
Among our advice to Mr. Kluger are the following:
1. Canvass transit stakeholders for ideas. There are a wide array of groups with transit interests out there who have good suggestions for IG reviews, from the business community to labor to civic organizations. They are worth talking as the new IG develops areas of review. Among some of the areas we would like considered for review are:
* What do the customers think of newly renovated stations?
* How does the MTA decide on where to put new rolling stock? Is it fair an effective?
* Are sufficient resources being devoted to cleaning the system? Maintaining it?
* What is the status of efforts to dispatch buses by satellite?
* What is the status of efforts to install boards on subways about arrivals and delays?
* Is subway, bus and commuter service adequate to meet growing ridership demands?
* What would be the impact of time-of-day tolls and gateless toll taking on the MTA's bridges and tunnels, as other facilities to in the region?
* How well has the MTA hardened and secured its facilities?
2. Make the agency's reports public - in an easy and timely way with notice. The last Inspector General required the public and the media to make Freedom of Information requests to obtain all its reports. This required a kind of fortune telling or mind reading: how to request a report with out even knowing it had been completed. All the previous MTA IG's - except the last - released them to the public and the media, with advance notice. Nothing in the law requires secrecy or would prevent the new IG from obtaining advance feedback from the MTA. Anything truly confidential under the law can be redacted.
3. Post all reports - new and old - on the agency's web site. The current website - http://mtaig.state.ny.us/ - might as well have a "gone fishing" sign posted. Although annual reports are listed (with 2005 being most recent), none of the agency's individual reports are. What should be a valuable resource is now largely not useful. Much of both the current and past history is lost, and that's a shame.
4. Revive the MTA IG's advisory committee. Under section 1279(a) of the Public Authorities Law, there is required to be a 13-member advisory board to the MTA IG appointed by the Governor, eight nominated by legislative leader. It's stated goal is to "identify ways to improve services, reduce costs and increase the efficiency of the MTA. It currently appears moribund, with many vacancies. This kind of advisory committee - like the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA - can help develop new projects, as well as over feedback on completed work. It's worth trying to bring it back to life.
Posted Feb 14 2007 by Gene Russianoff
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Subway Payphones: Still Dismal
Payphones exist in subway stations for a reason - to provide riders a line to the outside world. In times of delays and emergencies, commuters need to be able to rely on station payphones.
Yesterday the Straphangers Campaign released our annual report on subway payphones, which unfortunately found one out of every four to be "non-functioning." The biggest problem was no dial tone, followed by the coin falling through the slot, being eaten or not registering at all.
We hope new transit leadership uses this information as a baseline for improvement. With the plan for wiring the subways for cell phone use on hold, payphones remain an important line for rider communication.
You can read our entire report here .
Posted Feb 9 2007 by Neysa Pranger
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