Home Asides MTA Board to consider scaling back meeting frequency

MTA Board to consider scaling back meeting frequency

by Benjamin Kabak

Here’s a bit of inside baseball for you: Citing productivity concerns for its board members, Joe Lhota has proposed that the MTA Board meet less frequently in 2013. Already, the MTA Board convenes 11 months out of the year — omitting the August — and the MTA head believes this schedule does not promote the “efficient use of time and resources” of Board members or agency heads. Thus, when the Governance Committee meets tomorrow, its members will address a proposal to reduce the number of meetings to eight a year. The Board and its committees would meet approximately every six weeks.

In addition to reducing the number of board meetings, Lhota has proposed a twice-yearly “Chairman’s Forum” in which Lhota and the agency presidents would field comments and questions from the public. These forums, Board materials say [pdf], would “promote transparency in MTA operations and ensure that MTA leadership remains accessible and accountable to the riding public, transportation advocates and elected officials.” These meeting would be streamed live over the Internet as well.

Generally, I’m agnostic on the issue of board meeting frequency. The meetings themselves are generally the same and only of interest when the MTA is fielding a big-ticket procurement issue, has a capital projects update or must debate a fare hike/budget. Fewer meetings may raise some oversight concerns, but an organization of the MTA’s size can easily get by with eight meetings a year instead of 11. The forums, on the other hand, are an intriguing idea that would allow more direct interaction (other than through Twitter) between MTA execs and riders. The trick though is to avoid the same litany of complaints and speakers at every forum, as has happened at these types of meetings in the past.

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Stephen Smith September 18, 2012 - 5:51 pm

The trick though is to avoid the same litany of complaints and speakers at every forum…

I’d be okay with the same litany of complaints, as long as that “litany” includes, “What are you doing to deal with on-board crew overstaffing on the subway and regional rail lines?” and, “What are you doing to lobby the DOT and FRA to reform their rolling stock rules?”

Benjamin Kabak September 18, 2012 - 5:53 pm

You should check out one of these public comment meetings before agreeing to the same litany of complaints.

On the other hand, though, to debate myself, the same litany of complaints might be good if it ever results in action. Mostly, it concerns things that aren’t actionable or don’t represent steps forward for the MTA operationally.

Bolwerk September 19, 2012 - 9:50 am

It might be good if it were directed at people who can do something about it. The public hearing requirement before a fare hike is a farce; the MTA can do nothing about the fare hike nor the public hearing.

Anon September 19, 2012 - 6:24 pm

I’m not buying the transparency argument anymore. They are required by law to be transparent and the includes streaming these meetings over the web.

If they want to be transparent they wouldn’t be delinquent in filing these lobbying reports http://www.mta.info/mta/legislative.html

Streetsblog New York City » Today’s Headlines September 19, 2012 - 9:01 am

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