One of the sticking points in the Senate during the debate over the MTA has been the authority’s leadership. Many Senators believe that the MTA’s leadership doesn’t know what they’re doing, that they are misleading the public, that they aren’t cutting enough costs internally.
Reality could not be further from Albany, and a recent pro-MTA editorial in Crain’s highlights that point:
Some suggest the answer lies in firing another CEO, the MTA’s Lee Sander. He has become a target for those who believe the MTA is bloated and wasteful. In truth, Mr. Sander has wisely streamlined operations and cut costs in his two years in the post. He hasn’t solved all of the MTA’s problems. Who could in such a short time? And he hasn’t been the most effective politician in selling what he has done. But is that really a fault? Shouldn’t the job go to a seasoned transportation professional rather than a politician?
Meanwhile, Streetsblogs checked in with the MTA to find out just how the authority is streamlining operations. MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan told Brad Aaron about the changes:
Donovan points to the following efficiencies imposed “even as demand is at levels not seen since the early 1950s”: elimination of 410 administrative positions; establishment of Regional Bus Operations, merging three companies into one; creation of a Business Service Center to “consolidate duplicative back office functions”; assignment of managers to oversee individual subway lines; formation of a blue-ribbon panel to “encourage competition and increase bidding on capital construction projects”; and increases in advertising revenue “from $38 million in 1997 to $125 million in 2008.”
Furthermore, according to Donovan, Sander has saved the MTA 11 percent by mandating internal budget cuts. That’s solving — and not contributing to — the problem.
Of course, someone may have to be the political sacrificial lamb. While the Senators sadly won’t fire themselves, Sander’s days may be unfortunately numbered. He is a man with a vision for the MTA and would be by far the best choice to head a money-rich transit agency. But those times have never been, and Sander, like the rest of us, awaits word of the fate of what is for now his transit agency.