Feb
27

Link: On Lhota’s first 100 days

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It’s hard to believe how quickly 100 days can go by, but that’s the time that’s passed since Joseph Lhota took over the reins at the MTA from Jay Walder. Despite a delayed confirmation hearing that didn’t see Lhota officially assuming the mantle of CEO and Chairman until January, the new head has been in place since mid-November when he served as the agency’s executive director. Today, Dana Rubinstein at Capital New York looks back on those first 100 days and walks away impressed.

“To sum up,” she writes, “Lhota was installed by a governor who doesn’t much care about transit to straighten out the finances and public image of an authority that is a political pinata, all while keeping the trains running on time. Perhaps surprisingly, under these circumstances, Joe Lhota’s first 100 days have been fairly calm. And perhaps more surprisingly, transit people seem to like the job he’s doing.”

While Rubinstein makes the mistake of crediting Lhota with FASTRACK — it was a Walder program that Lhota opted to push through — she highlights the good of his tenure so far: He’s reached out to the TWU, and he’s been a vocal critic of the current MTA funding structure. He recognizes that the MTA cannot survive without the revenue from the payroll tax and has called upon the state to find a more sustainable way to fund transit.

I believe Rubinstein’s take is the right one: Lhota has had a solid first 100 days. Amidst doubts concerning his credentials, he has established himself as a very credible MTA leader. Still, he has his work cut out for him. The TWU still has yet to agree to a contract, and the MTA must continue to push for future expansion plans while shoring up its internal bureaucracy and funding structure. Hopefully, though, Lhota is here to stay as some stability atop the MTA would be a welcome change from the revolving door through which we’ve lived over the past five years.



Categories : Asides, MTA Politics

9 Responses to “Link: On Lhota’s first 100 days”

  1. Al D says:

    Do his responsibilities include growing and expanding transit in this region? If yes, then he needs to put forth a strategic vision of this. Forget a few +SBS+ treatments and whilst needed, what about a true subway expansion (not just a ‘spur’ line)? Whata bout pushing for a rail line on the TZ? What about the Main Line third track? What about the outer boroughs…newly envisioned bus routes, and (gulp) a subway line not entering Manhattan but serving the outer boroughs (e.g. Triboro RX)? What about a wholesale restructuring of the MTA? And so on and so on. Why must we just accept whatever the MTA throws at us (and when they decide to do it) and actually have an all inclusive discussion?

    • SEAN says:

      Because Albany calls the shots. If the MTA region were it’s own state, you would have far more local control over dollars & how they’re spent.

      • Nathanael says:

        ….and Albany is notoriously broken.

        Albany calling the shots wasn’t as much of a problem when it was clear that Albany (a) actually cared about the state of NYC transportation, and (b) had people who were competent and intelligent running things.

        When was that last true? 1900?

    • Marc Shepherd says:

      Do his responsibilities include growing and expanding transit in this region? If yes, then he needs to put forth a strategic vision of this. . . . Why must we just accept whatever the MTA throws at us (and when they decide to do it) and actually have an all inclusive discussion?

      Yes, I think his responsibilities include growing and expanding transit in the region. But there is only so far ahead of the politics that he can afford to get. As of now, the MTA does not have secure funding for the projects it already has on the drawing boards, a fact that Lhota clearly recognizes. Unfortunately, he is working for a governor and a legislature who are clueless about transit. It would be a waste of time to propose half-a-dozen more such projects before figuring out how to pay for the ones underway. “What the MTA throws at us” is really what the legislature throws at us. (I also think the Tappan Zee is out of his jurisdiction.)

      Hopefully, though, Lhota is here to stay as some stability atop the MTA would be a welcome change from the revolving door through which we’ve lived over the past five years.

      MTA heads seldom last much longer than the governors who appoint them. If you want Lhota to stick around, you have to hope for Cuomo to stick around.

    • Think twice says:

      I agree. If the MTA wants the riding public to rally around it (and not always against it), then it shouldn’t rely on a mostly piecemeal approach to expansion, but put out a comprehensive expansion and upgrade plan that would awe and inspire. It should be as audacious as the plans of the past and as cutting-edge as the upgrades other cities are doing today. This is critical in order to fire-up the imaginations of commuters, generate a buzz, and illustrate that, “This is what a well-funded system would create. Therefore citizens go forth and prod and pester your local, luddite representative in the City Council, state Legislature, and Congress to endorse transit expansion, if they expect to be voted back into office.”

      • BrooklynBus says:

        I agree. By not having a comprehensive plan out there, you are sending a message to the federal and stat governments tha if transit money were suddenly to become available, you would have no idea how to spend it. Having a prioritized plan at least let’s everyone know what you would do with the funds if you had them and what benefits you would get.

  2. Anon says:

    If the media can credit Walder for the countdown clocks then its only fair to give Lhota credit for FASTRACK

  3. Woody says:

    Lota needs to concentrate on getting the MTA to do its job before trying to take on a lot of new projects.

    Get the trains to run on time; Ben writes about how the countdown clocks show the trains coming in bunches, and obviously not on a good schedule. Repair the damn escalators and elevators. Keep crime down. Fight the rats. Clean the cars and stations. Paint the stations, change the light bulbs. Take care of the basics first.

    Finish the #7 line extension to 34th St. Complete the Fulton Transit Center. Get the first phase of SAS ready to go. Bring the East Side Access project to an on-time and on-budget completion — using the current estimated dates and the current estimated budget. Do all this with no further delays and no further massive cost-overruns.

    Show the public and the politicians that the MTA can do the job it has now before asking for any massive new project or program.

    At the very least, wait until after the elections in November. No point in asking this Congress for a bucket of nothing. But maybe after we throw some of the rascals out of the House we can begin to dream again …

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