Ah, the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA. Since 1981, this committee, which has the potential to be a voice for change, has been flying under the radar. For its fancy, the committee doesn’t get its name in the paper more than once a year really when the annual MTA Performance Review hits the news.
Well, guess what? Today’s the day. The Committee has issued their review (available here as a PDF), and the critiques are what you would expect really. For this post, I’ll look examine what the PCAC thinks about New York City Transit, and later this afternoon, I’ll look at the PCAC’s response to the MTA overall. If you’re interested in the commuter rail networks, page through the PDF. It’s a quick read.
Before jumping in, it’s interesting to note that, by and large, the PCAC, much like the Rider Report Cards, isn’t issuing any groundbreaking information. As you’ll notice shortly, I’ve hit upon nearly all of their critiques and praises at some point during the last 13 months. How can I get a spot on this committee?
And here we go.
With New York City Transit in the crosshairs, the PCAC starts out by praising the man in charge. PCAC likes Howard Roberts, the new head of New York City Transit. Considering that the Committee went out of its way to offer the same compliments to MTA CEO Elliot “Lee” Sander, it seems that no one really liked the old bosses. Nice work, Gov. Pataki.
In more tangible areas, the PCAC praised NYCT for its myriad service upgrades. The Times Square Shuttle is better; the L line is better; the 7 line, running express after Mets games, is better; and even the Staten Island Railway is better. The PCAC also praised the MTA for renovating their elevators. Way to go, guys.
Interestingly, the Committee highlighted the MTA’s communications efforts during planned service outages. They were particular impressed with the MTA e-mail alerts and the new service alert posters. I approved of those changes last year as well.
The PCAC wasn’t too thrilled with the Rider Report Cards. I concur. A flawed process and methodology as well as predictable results marred the process. Relatedly, the PCAC criticized the MTA for their vague performance measures. What exactly does it mean for a train to “on time”? What does it mean to suffer from delays during travel? These too are questions I recently posted.
While PCAC criticized a few bus issues — the odd placement of shelters, poor dissemination of express bus routes — they are not happy with the cleanliness, or lack thereof, of the subway system. As long as the stations remain open 24 hours a day, cleanliness will always be an issue.
No big surprises here: The PCAC was not at all pleased with the inability of NYCT to communicate during the August 8th flood disaster. This story has been covered to death. We know the drill.
The Committee expressed dismay that 86 stations do not have public address systems. Coincidentally, NYCT head Howard Roberts announced plans to address this deficiency earlier this week. Do you think he had an advanced copy of the report?
Finally, the PCAC was highly unamused by the lack of progress with the Public Address/Customer Information Screen projects. We know that one from the lab rat that is the L Line. Those signs are, as The New York Times wrote on Sunday, hardly reliable. With the project already 34.4 percent over budget and three years behind schedule, the Committee questions when, if at all, we’ll see late 20th Century technology arrive in the New York City Subways.
Check back later for the PCAC’s look inside the MTA.