TA, Straphangers: Next MTA head should know the transitBy
New York’s straphangers want the next MTA head to be well versed in public transit, according to a Transportation Alternatives poll. With current MTA CEO and Chairman Jay Walder’s looming departure, Trans Alt and the Straphangers asked 600 New Yorkers their views on the next MTA head, and the results show that riders want someone to advocate for the bus and subway systems. “New Yorkers know first-hand the city’s public transit needs,” Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, said. “Over the last three years, the state legislature has raided a total of $260 million in dedicated funds from transit riders. It’s no surprise that people want the next MTA chair to ensure that elected officials protect the public transit funding needed to prevent further fare hikes and service cuts. They want serious leadership for these challenging financial times.”
The polls, unfortunately, are somewhat self-selection as the two groups hosted them on their websites and Facebook pages. The respondents therefore are more attuned to transit issues than a typical subway rider may be. Still, the answers are telling. Riders want someone who has experience running other large and complext transit systems, and they want someone with the political skills to raise support for transit in Washington, Albany and City Hall. Those traits represent the Holy Grail amongst transit advocates, and finding the right person who is both willing to stick around and enjoys support from Albany has been a challenge.
“Riders most want an MTA chair experienced in running other large, complex transit systems,” Cate Catino of the Straphangers Campaign said. “With a public transit system that runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, riders need the next MTA chair to be able to step into our complex system and hit the ground rolling at full speed. Riders want it all, and we deserve it.”