The news out of MTA HQ tonight is a rather wonky bit of restructuring, but I think it’s an important item nonetheless. In a letter to the MTA Board, CEO and Chairman Jay Walder announced a streamlined committee roster. In an effort to make the MTA’s various subagencies “more effective and more efficient,” the Board committees will be consolidated.
The biggest changes are how these committees are now grouped by service area. Instead of having two separate committees overseeing Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road, one committee will take care of commuter rail lines. Walder wants to encourage these agencies to work together in a “more consistent and cost effective manner.” Similarly, all MTA bus operations will now be under the control of one committee as well.
Meanwhile, two committees — the Capital Construction and Real Estate groups — are being eliminated outright. The Board oversight for these projects will be subsumed by the respective committees. So, for example, New York City Transit’s committee will oversee the Second Ave. Subway and the 7 line extension while the LIRR/Metro-North committee will have oversight of the East Side Access project. The Finance Committee will take over the duties for the Real Estate group.
In a sense, this is how the MTA itself would be structured if the organization were to be built from the ground up. One group would oversee commuter rail and another the buses. Major projects would be under the purview of the agency tasked with operating the eventual new line. It would just make sense.
In other Board news, the six non-voting members who lost their seats when Albany failed to reauthorize their seats on the MTA Board are back in business. Because of eventual action in Albany and inaction by the governor, the law has been restored, and the non-voting Board members — including Andrew Albert of the New York City Transit Riders Council and Norman Brown from the Metro-North Railroad Coalition — have been reinstated.