Home MTA Politics Amidst a sweeping vision for NYC transportation, Corey Johnson calls for city control of transit

Amidst a sweeping vision for NYC transportation, Corey Johnson calls for city control of transit

by Benjamin Kabak

Speaker Corey Johnson laid out the case for municipal control of transit with a sweeping and comprehensive approach to streets in a speech and 100-page report on Tuesday.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson thrust himself into the debate over the future of the MTA in a big way on Tuesday during his State of the City speech as he called for the city, and not the state, to control its subways and buses. Instead of the MTA, Johnson envisions a Big Apple Transit Authority to oversee transit and the city’s bridges and tunnels while introducing top-to-bottom reforms and introducing congestion pricing to NYC.

“Municipal control means we decide how our system is run,” Johnson said during his speech. “We decide how we raise our money, and we decide how we spend it.”

The proposal to unwind the MTA is the centerpiece of a companion report [pdf] that stretches to over 100 pages and includes a truly comprehensive vision change New York City streets by prioritizing mass mobility over private automobile use. It calls for significant investment in bus prioritization technology and a massive increase in bus lanes; planning for a truly comprehensive network of safe bike lanes; and a reduction of private automobile ownership by 50% over 30 years.

It is, in nearly every sense, a rebuke of de Blasio Administration’s lackluster approach to transit and a welcome wrench thrown in the ongoing discussion over the MTA. As Bill de Blasio falls for Cuomo’s bait-and-switch on MTA reform while showing his willingness to cede more city input on transit to the state as part of the 10-point deck-chairs-on-the-Titanic proposal announced last week, Corey Johnson has created a vision for a more mobile New York freed from the tyranny of the car.

Inside the Plan

With 104 pages to get through, it’s going to take some time to digest this report, but my initial take is that it is extremely thorough and well done. We knew Johnson had been working on this report for a while, and I was worried that calls for local control would gloss over the issue of the lack of city taxing authority to compensate for lost state revenue. But Johnson and his team devote significant attention to the need for more city financial power, and he adroitly couples this call with a lengthy discussion on all aspects of transit reform, from capital procurement process to labor costs and work rules, and continued support for commuter railroads and regional planning.

I’ll have a more detailed examination of the ins and outs of the reports in upcoming posts. For today, let’s run through some highlights. As I see it, the proposal includes an easy part and a hard part. Let’s start with the har part — which is of course the local control of the buses and subways.

As I mentioned, Johnson begins with a call to bring New York City Transit, MBSTOA, MTA Bus, the Staten Island Railway, the former Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority and a portion of MTA HQ under one entity city-controlled entity called Big Apple Transit. The BAT would be a city agency on par with NYC DOT, under the auspicies of a Mobility Czar (akin to today’s DOT Commissioner) and fully controlled by the mayor. A board would oversee the BAT, and the board would be drawn from New Yorkers who use transit. The BAT, Johnson said, would be modeled on the Water Board, run as part of the city budgeting process and subject to outside scrutiny. The capital planning process would shift to a 10-year scope with far more transparency than currently in place.

In terms of finances, Johnson gets very creative. The MTA would survive to retire its massive debt, and thus, revenue would flow through BAT to the MTA until the debt is gone. But going forward, BAT would issue its on bonds, a move Cap’n Transit was particularly fond of in early reactions. Congestion pricing and increase in city taxation powers to offset lost state revenue are required, and Johnson wants to exploit intricacies of the Trump tax law to impose levies that remain fully deductible for corporations under federal law. Again, this is complicated, and I’ll have more on that in upcoming posts. This is the crux of the proposal, and it lives or dies with the city’s ability to raise sufficient revenue without relying on fare hikes.

Johnson then runs through the litany of typical transit reform initiatives: end inefficient procurement; address labor costs; implement work rule reforms, etc. He promises to support regional planning and commuter rail (including free up additional money for commuter rail investment), and he issued a nod to sustaining and building out the Fair Fares program.

Now, all of that requires cooperation and willing partners in Albany. We’ll come back to that, but let’s run down the easy part. To one degree or another, the city could do just about everything else Johnson proposed nearly immediately. It is, he says, a “master plan for city streets” designed to “Bring cohesion to what is now a patchwork system of upgrades,” clear shots fired across the bow of the de Blasio Administration.

To that end, Johnson wants to focus on buses. He wants to install at least 30 miles of truly dedicated and physically separated bus lanes a year; introduce signal priority technology to at least 1000 intersections per year; and implement a bus network redesign by 2025. He calls for a comprehensive livable streets program with more plazas and shared streets, accessible intersections citywide by 2030, and at least 50 miles of actually protected bike lanes a year with a fully connected bike network by 2030.

“We need to break the car culture,” Johnson said to loud applause during his speech. This involves reducing city vehicle usage by 25 in five years and reducing citywide car ownership by half by 2050. These are laudable goals and ones that have for far too long been lacking city transportation planning. These are also goals, as I mentioned, completely within the scope of the city’s current powers.

The Political Reaction

A plan this large and in-depth demands a reaction, but it also demands careful consideration. Allies and opponents won’t materialize overnight, but many in New York chimed in today with various reactions. The Transit Literati who have grown sick of Gov. Cuomo and the opaqueness and problems of state control (me included) seemed to like the plan, but the notable reactions were from politicians saying not much of anything.

“The City already owns the New York City transit system,” a Cuomo spokesperson said. The governor is essentially daring the city to go nuclear in canceling the state’s lease of the subways, but this would leave the city with an inoperable asset and no funding plan. It’s a sniveling and conniving response at best.

Leroy Comrie, one of the State Senators tasked with MTA oversight, also didn’t seem amenable to the idea. “As a former city council member, I understand the desire for people to be parochial about their communities, but as a now-state official looking at the needs of the entire state and the impact of congestion on the entire metropolitan area, I understand we have to figure something out,” he said. I don’t know what’s parochial about good transit governance or the state’s largest city controlling how its residents and workers get around, and I question how much leeway we give Comrie, a five-year Senator and 18-year New York politician, to “figure something out” because he certainly hasn’t done much figuring out in two decades. I’m also still waiting to hear a strong case for extra-regional control of New York City Transit, but I digress.

Similarly, Carl Heastie, when told that Johnson wants the city to pass congestion pricing if the state does not, had a terse comment: “We believe [congestion pricing] falls within the purview of Albany.” If anything, these voices from Albany show that holding onto power simply for the sake of having power is important, and these men will give up a power they don’t really need and shouldn’t have easily.

Meanwhile, the mayor, who discovered the subways only last week, said essentially nothing, via a spokesperson: “While he appreciates the Speaker’s transit vision and contribution, the Mayor is focused on immediate actions to fix the broken subway system. Our subways are in the middle of a crisis that needs an immediate solution. The Mayor stands with millions of riders depending on action right now. We have four weeks to deliver sustainable revenue sources capable of turning this crisis around.”

A few advocates unfortunately echoed these sentiments. While the Straphangers Campaigned praised Johnson and issued a call for “serious debate,” others did not want to change the subject away from congestion pricing. “Let’s deal with getting the MTA funded first, and then we can discuss how and who controls it after we get through that hurdle,” Nick Sifuentes, head of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said.

In comments to Politoco, the Riders Alliance had a similar view and seemed almost annoyed by a truly comprehensive rethinking of transit. “We’ve worked for years to demonstrate to everyone that it is Cuomo’s MTA, that the MTA is in fact run by the state and controlled by the governor. We’re at the point now where that’s been acknowledged. Now the challenge is to get funding out of the state,” Danny Pearlstein, the group’s policy director, said.

My Take: A bomb thrown toward transit complacency

The mayor’s statement and those from the leading advocacy groups seem to indicate that too many are putting all their MTA eggs in the congestion pricing basket. They seem to view congestion pricing as an “immediate fix” to the MTA’s woes, and this is misguided at best and dangerous at worst. Congestion pricing will solve other city problems while providing a new revenue stream for transit investment, and it’s an outcome NYC desperately needs. It will not “fix” the MTA; only aggressive reform and careful oversight will do that. Congestion pricing has to be implemented carefully and properly to work, and tying it into some magical MTA fix will harm both the efficacy of congestion pricing and real MTA reform efforts.

To that end, this is a plan worth probing and likely one worth pursuing. At a bare minimum, a reorganized mess winds up more efficiency than the disorganized mess it replaces, and even modest gains in all the areas Johnson’s proposal tackles would realize huge benefits from the transit system and city at large. If this plan works, it could go a long way toward solving operations, governance and spending issues that plague the MTA. It’s certainly worth debating.

Ultimately, Corey Johnson threw a bomb into a complacent crowd of people who have had years to solve the problem and have done nothing, and they don’t know how to react. That crowd includes seasoned politicians, transit advocates and outside authorities on how the MTA is run. Corey Johnson has succeeded where Cuomo, de Blasio and countless others before them have failed: He has shaken up the status quo and introduced a viable, new proposal into the mix. We’ll see where it goes from here.

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Larry Penner March 6, 2019 - 5:34 am

NYC Council Speaker and 2021 Mayoral candidate Corey Johnson is correct that City Hall can actually regain control of the both the NYC Transit subway and bus systems. Decade after decade, previous NYC Mayors, Comptrollers, Public Advocates, City Council Presidents, City Council Speakers, Borough Presidents and City Council members would all play the same sad song. If only we had majority control of the MTA Board, things would be different. All have long forgotten that buried within the 1953 master agreement between the City of New York and NYC Transit is an escape clause. NYC has the legal right to take back at any time control of its assets. This includes the subway and most of the bus system. Actions speak louder than words. If Corey Johnson feels City Hall could do a better job managing the MTA including running the nation’s largest subway and bus system, he should ask Mayor Bill de Blasio to man up and regain control. In 1953, the old NYC Board of Transportation passed on control of the municipal subway system, including all its assets under a master lease and operating agreement to the newly created NYC Transit Authority.
It was subsequently amended over time to take over various NYC private franchised bus operators.
In 1971, the passenger operations of the former B&O Rail Road Staten Island Rapid Transit Railway Company were sold to NYC for $3.5 million. Later that year, NYC passed on control to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The MTA created a subsidiary, the Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority. It is managed by the MTA NYC Transit’s Department of Subways. and Staten Island railway.
In 2005, NYC transferred management of the seven private franchised bus operators (Command Bus, Green Lines, Jamaica Bus, Triboro Coach, Queens Surface, NY Bus and Liberty Lines Bronx Express) to the MTA. The MTA subsequently created MTA Bus, which is a separate from NYC Transit Bus.
Regaining total control comes with a number of financial liabilities. City Hall will have to negotiate with both the Governor and State Legislature over how much of the MTA’s $40 billion long term debt and billions more in employee pension liabilities come with the package. NYC would also inherit a series of union contracts and work rule agreements. You also have to develop a plan for turning over management for billions in hundreds of ongoing capital improvement projects that are already under way. Don’t forget current purchases for several thousand new subway cars and buses. A significant portion of the $12 billion worth of NYC Transit subway and buses along with MTA Bus (the old NYCDOT private franchised bus operators) capital funded projects contained in several dozen grants from the Federal Transit Administration would have to be transferred from MTA to NYC. This would involve the de obligation and re obligation of funding contained in active grants from MTA to NYC. There would also have to be an update to the MTA Federal Transit Administration Bi Annual Certification for thousands of federally funded assets currently being maintained by the MTA to NYC. This document submitted every two years certifies that any asset worth over $5,000 is being properly maintained and remains in active transit service. All of these assets have to meet their promised useful life.
NYC Transit bus and subway are the largest transit operators in the nation with a fleet of 6.400 subway and 4,400 buses. MTA Bus with a fleet of 1300 buses is one of the top ten bus operators in the nation. It is the equivalent of attempting to manage a fortune five hundred corporation. Does NYC have the technical capacity to take on such an undertaking to support creation of the new ‘Big Apple Transit’? NYCDOT manages the Staten Island Ferry, which is the largest municipal ferry in the nation. NYC Economic Development Corporation manages a private ferry operator program. NYCDOT has virtually no experience in management of either subways or buses. NYCDOT gave up management of the private franchised bus operators program in 2005 & 2006 to the MTA. This resulted in creation of MTA Bus which operates separately from NYC Transit Bus. Negotiations and final agreements for this transaction covering eight bus garages and 1300 bus fleet took many years. Today’s NYCDOT technical capacity as it relates to subways and buses is weak. It is primarily in the management of bus lanes, bus shelters, bus stop signs, select bus service, bus priority signalization, bike lanes, pedestrian plazas and street calming projects.
Perhaps NYC should take it one step at a time. Try attempting to manage the Staten Island Rail Road. Regain control of the 1300 MTA Bus fleet. After developing technical capacity to run these two, next try running the #7 subway line. The #7 subway has its own stand alone fleet and yard which makes it the perfect candidate. NYC should first attempt to successfully mange all three over a five year test period. If successful, perhaps then initiate a serious discussion about regaining control of the other 95% of NYC Transit subway and bus assets. In the meantime, a City Hall take over of NYC Transit and Subway while legally possible will continue to be just a dream.

(Larry Penner is a transportation historian, advocate and writer who previously worked 31 years for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for grants supporting billions in capital projects and programs on behalf of the MTA, NYC Transit, MTA Bus, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North Rail Road and NYC Department of Transportation).

Zoni Cermal March 17, 2019 - 12:20 pm

Subway should be twelve bucks at 7:30 am & Pm and one buck at 1:30 pm & am. That’s real congestion pricing. It would fix the subway overload! Our problem is high falluting notions desired to get extra schoolmarm credit for “effort”. They want to emply their millenials making fancy signs and writing casuistry instead of getting their hands dirty making the trains run.

VLM March 17, 2019 - 12:33 pm

If this isn’t the dumbest comment in the 13-year history of the site, it’s close.

Billy G May 8, 2019 - 10:25 am

This is absolutely correct. People would adjust by starting their work shifts earlier and later to work around the most expensive commute hours, and the pricing would balance out. It should be congestion pricing a la uber’s demand pricing, so when the smoothing happens, the prices come down across the continuum.

BrooklynBus March 6, 2019 - 8:16 am

There are a lot of pitfalls here which merit great attention. The most troubling is giving the city the power to increase its taxing ability. Will the city continue to place unfair burdens on one and two family homes by raising real estate taxes and double digit increases in water taxes that are not needed to operate the Water Board.

Should we automatically except congestion pricing without even knowing the details! and blindly add 30 miles of exclusive bus lanes a year whether we need them or not, should we add 50 miles a year of bike lanes even though some of the protected bike lanes we have are barely used and have greatly increased traffic congestion particularly along Queens Boulevard? Are we saying that no one needs to drive and made trips can be made by bike? It seems that is the case according to these provisions. It has been no secret that Transportation Alternative runs DOT, and that is now obvious from these proposals.

And speaking of DOT, they are far more incompetent than the MTA and to model a new agency after DOT is just looking for trouble. They have increased traffic congestion through measures they have taken such as eliminations thousands of parking spaces, limiting turns, and general traffic lanes. They have ignored the communities in the planning of SBS lanes especially in Woodhaven Queens and the Rockaways imposing their dictatorship. They pretend to be for increased safety while dragging their feet taking as long as seven years to restripe worn out or missing lane markings, have dark stretches of highways with inoperable highway lights for years, missing and misleading signage that can go uncorrected for ten years or more all leading to dangerous conditions. Is this ow we would like to model the MTA?

People are mistaken if they believe the city will be any more responsive than the state to their needs when calls to three one one get closed out without any resolution. There at be legitimate reasons for city the over of the MTA, but this is not a decision to be made hastily.

VLM March 6, 2019 - 11:01 am

Boy, Al, you just never give up, eh? This whole argument that TA runs DOT that you and your buddies bandy about on Facebook all day like the bunch of brainwashed Fox News-addled Boomers you are is so sad. It’s the QAnon of NYC. If TA ran DOT, do you think they’d have stopped installing bike racks or would count sharrows as sufficient bike lanes? Do you think placard abuse would be rampant and vehicle miles driven on the increase? Do you think we’d have a bit more than some half-assed plan for two miles of protected bus lanes? Give it a rest. You sound delusional.

Meanwhile, you spout off nonsense like “bike lanes are barely uesd” or adding 30 miles – 30 miles in a city with over 6000 miles of road – of bus lanes is a bad idea. With naysayers and no men like you in charge for so many years, it’s no wonder transit sucks in NYC these days.

Yes, we need to prioritize transit and buses and bikes and streets for people. No, not every trip in a car should be accommodated. If you don’t like it, tough. You’re on the wrong side of history.

BrooklynBus March 6, 2019 - 3:07 pm

If Transportation Alternatives (TA) did not run DOT, the solution to a tragic fatal pedestrian accident where someone not physically able to drive a car was granted a license and more tragically committed suicide would not have been to install a protected bike lane. That actually has received opposition in the community citing trucks are now using other side streets causing more danger because of increased traffic congestion along 9th Street.

Placard abuse is rampant because of politics and is irrelevant to the question of TA running DOT. Ice attempt at switching the subject. Vehicle miles are on the increase because of MTA failures, not because of increased looking for parking spots which DOT has eliminated by the thousands. Of course according to you and other fanatics, we shouldn’t have any on street parking at all or it should be so expensive that only the rich could afford it.

When someone is proposing that every redesigned bus route include an exclusive bus lane even though the frequency on some routes are so low they do not merit a bus route, is completely irresponsible. That and installing 30 miles of protected bike lanes with no consideration to the additional traffic congestion it would cause in a war against the automobile to make driving totally unbearable are insane solutions to our transit crisis.

Why are we in our current mess? It is because of people like you who have been in charge of transit responsibilities and would support such a plan. No one is talking about accommodating every car trip. Another misstatement on your part. Everyone’s needs must be considered, not only the views of cyclists. There may be some merit in returning the buses and subways to NYC, but it must be done correctly, not to appease certain powerful groups. There must be adequate debate. We cannot afford to trust a politician who wants to be mayor and proposes giving the mayor more power and power to tax its citizens at will without any state oversight.

BrooklynBus March 6, 2019 - 3:13 pm

Should have said “Nice attempt at switching the subject”. And Vehicle miles are on the increase because more time is spent looking for parking spaces because of their elimination of thousands of spots by DOT. How many just for citibike alone?

Guest March 7, 2019 - 7:15 am

Buses should always have priority. More bicycle lanes encourage more people to use that mode of transportation. Bicycle lanes don’t cause traffic, automobiles do. Traffic calming reduces the likelihood of collisions. Congestion pricing has long been necessary, and makes it easier to implement what’s been mentioned (plus revenue).

Pedro Valdez-Rivera March 6, 2019 - 8:53 am

Is he trying to follow what the CTA had done by taking control while improving the subway and bus infrastructure within the city limits? Realistically, it’s a tall task, given the lack of political appetite from the Governor, the State Legislature and the Mayor.

SEAN March 6, 2019 - 11:48 am

If I were Cuomo I would give in to these demands. Why you say? Too see if the city could pull it off… of course assuming they won’t be able to survive without state funding. If the city asks for support, just say… you wanted to go on your own & now you live with the consequences.

Personally I love the idea of the city being in control of it’s transit future & not subject to the whims of Albany’s psycho drama.

As for funding this new agency, some of it should be derived from the value capture of real estate. I don’t just mean real estate taxes, rather I’m referring to something similar to what is done in Tokyo, but with private ownership not state ownership. Another way to look at this is how business improvement districts are set up & apply similar ideas to the transit system.

Pedro Valdez-Rivera March 9, 2019 - 9:35 am

It looks like Governor Crony are playing hardball against NYC yet again: $10B in state funding will be gone if NYC controls the subways and buses by using the escape clause from the 1953 master agreement as Larry said.

SEAN March 11, 2019 - 7:47 pm

Then make cuomo do it, as it would be political suicide if he attempted it.

Pedro Valdez-Rivera March 23, 2019 - 4:36 pm

As a millennial, I still felt regretted for Governor Crony of course.

sonicboy678 March 6, 2019 - 1:47 pm

My main concern with this is how it affects integration with the railroads.

Assuming that the issue is favorably addressed (and it may very well be), then I’ll put my support behind it. Perhaps it’ll also allow the ferries to be (properly) integrated.

smotri March 6, 2019 - 2:41 pm

As of now, the subways are not integrated with the various suburban networks. In fact, as far as I know, none of the suburban networks are integrated with any of the other suburban networks.

Webster0105 March 6, 2019 - 4:52 pm

Okay, but [further] bifurcating the administration of these services works to that end in what way? Just because it’s not optimal now doesn’t mean making it worse on purpose is immediately favorable.

The city should be taking over *all* of these services…LIRIR/MNRR can serve every bit a role transporting NYers as the subways do. The fact that they don’t is evidence that they should be absorbed into a “BAT” that is city-run (for most purposes) but is still regional.

I don’t understand why people believe the issue with the MTA is that it’s a regional body, rather than that Albany is horrible at funding and administering mass transit.

A clean cleaving of transit regionally is something to pause and reflect on. I want to hear more about Johnson’s thoughts on this topic. I don’t understand the calls to emulate international peers when almost every single one of them, largely, comprehensively administers transit at a regional level.

SEAN March 6, 2019 - 9:10 pm

Hi Webster, here’s a set of ideas… tell me your thoughts below.

1. MNR & the LIRR become a suburban rail division of “BAT” with one set of operating standards & one operating board.

2. Nice, Suffolk Transit, Huntington area rapid transit, Bee-line & Transport of Rockland would merge into a unified
suburban bus authority & be it’s own unit inside the BAT, sort of how Pace bus is a separate but integrated part of the CTA.

3. When the MetroCard replacement comes, it needs to be a complete regional system including railroads, suburban buses, ferries & would need to be configured too work with CT Transit “Go CT card,” Smartlink & the future farecard that NJT is implementing soon.

Webster0105 March 8, 2019 - 7:50 am

Yes, this is somewhat what I believe makes sense, and is where I hope things get, if the Speaker’s proposal moves forward.

Essentially, I’m in favor of having a NYC equivalent of German “Verkehrsverbünde”(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamburger_Verkehrsverbund) where the city gets municipal control of NYCT, but all regional transit is coordinated regionally. This is the only way we’ll ever get true S-Bahn/RER-like service.

The only tricky spot(s) would be NJT and PATH — former *has* to eventually be coordinated with MNRR/LIRR and the latter with the city subways.

To say nothing of the LRT in Hudson and Essex counties.

I think a framework can be created to actually be bolder than what Johnson lays out here: Completely supplant the bi-state Port Authority with a regional body that plans and administers mass transit programs in the NYC metro region.

Webster0105 March 8, 2019 - 7:52 am

***the Port Authority can keep the airports, ports, bridges, etc…I’m only pointing out that we can just get them out of public transit entirely by having coordination between NYC and the surrounding NY/NJ counties.

sonicboy678 March 8, 2019 - 8:48 am

PATH would probably be reasonably simple, especially since certain MetroCards are already accepted. NJT? Something tells me that NJT won’t be remotely as willing as the Port Authority.

SEAN March 8, 2019 - 3:37 pm


I think if you make it enticing enough, NJT will at least consider an idea such as this. Especially if it would lower there operating costs & allow for further regional integration .


What you describe is being done in Canada in both Toronto & Vancouver. http://www.metrolinx.ca http://www.translink.ca. This will give you all the information you will need.

SEAN March 8, 2019 - 3:48 pm

Sorry, the first link should have been http://www.metrolinx.com.

6 train rider March 6, 2019 - 8:52 pm

Dreams need to start somewhere, and now we know where various parties stand. The current would-be architects of the next iteration of the MTA would do well to remember how, and perhaps more importantly why, the MTA was created in the first place.

Ben, you should do a series, perhaps featuring Larry Penner, on the history of the MTA to shed light on: the problems that preceded it, the context in which it was created, and how that should certainly influence its future and how it’s fixed or replaced.

The tantalizing prospect of bringing the highway tolling and congestion pricing revenue back under city control would start an epic and intractable battle for funds between NYCT and the railroads that is arguably unnecessary and could inflict damage on a system that increasingly needs to operate with more regional synergy instead of local political control.

To put this in context, the last person to have city control of toll roads and bridge revenue was none other than Robert Moses. Politics are in a better place now, but hearing quotes like the one at the top of the article from Johnson will sound cringe-worthy from a future antithesis of a politician who will defund it or redirect funds when times are lean.

The most interesting thing about the proposal is, as mentioned, how it exposes the relative lack of political will to implement changes under the auspices of the NYC DOT. True interborough BRT, a dramatically accelerated expansion of the network of bike lanes, pedestrianized and mass-transit centered areas in the city core. All of these things are necessary to bring our city into the 21st century and break the car culture once and for all.

We need to remember that none of the MTA’s plans are new. East Side Access, 2nd Av. Subway, Penn Access, these are all plans 50 or more years in the making. It’s not just the MTA. Congestion pricing as an idea is around 40 years old, the bike master plan is going on 25, etc. The key for all of these things is more revenue and more coordination at the local and regional level. Whatever form that takes, it’s glad to see the political will forming to make things happen.

Smotri March 8, 2019 - 11:41 am

While something must be done either to reform or replace the MTA with regards to the city’s subways and buses, judging from the city’s mediocre performance in managing a wide range of areas – its public schools, its public housing, its large homeless population are glaring examples – why should anyone have confidence in its ability to manage the dismal public transit in this city? Imagine someone like de Blasio, who has only in the past week or so discovered that yes, New Yorkers actually rely on the dismal subways and buses, in charge of all this?

SEAN March 8, 2019 - 3:43 pm

Point taken, but has Albany done any better with transit funding & operations with the MTA? I know you have that answer.

smotri March 11, 2019 - 11:15 am

It’s obvious the state is incapable of running things. I will never claim to know how all this can be managed, but it seems some sort of authority or corporation, based in New York City, not able to be undermined by politicians – whether for financing, or for operating the transit system – is warranted. It would have to be able to float bonds and it would have to be able to operate the system in a rational manner – changing work rules, ways of procurement…a whole slew of things, really, from top to bottom. A lot seems to be needed to do this, and I doubt the existing state and local power structure will let anything like this happen. The whole Amazon debacle shows how nothing, but nothing, was even hinted at regarding how to deal with the increased pressure on the existing transit system to accommodate the projected increase of 25,000 employees in and around Long Island City.

smartone March 12, 2019 - 10:36 am

This is GREAT plan .. All the complaints about NYC Subway all the dreams of NYC Subway expansion can NOT happen until NYC gets control of the subways. PERIOD

Diane drozeck April 30, 2019 - 6:43 pm

The city and dot needs to address the inadequacy of dot and dep maintaining our streets, crosswalks and side walks. I personally had a problem with a crosswalk in which a plate was not even with the street leaving a hole and pothole. When my foot was injured ..a chip foot bone and a fractured foot. Both feet involved…leaving me severely injured…i was not able to do my biking for my diabetes…..unable to go to up the stairs leaving the inability to sleep in my. Own bed.
The diabetes became so aggravated and due to surgery was bedridden for weeks..months….
My foot still is swollen and that was approx. 4 yers ago.
I was told by the department of transportation and dep that since i was the first injured in that hole………THEY WERE NOT LIABLE
There was a code even that stated if a pedestrian dies…….they are not responcible. (Even if it is dot fault)

After corresponcding with the commissioners of DOT of Staten Island and commissioner of all the boroughs it was brought to my attention….the following
1. Dot does not have inspectors to review crosswalks periodically for safty and accessability issues. They depend totally on a citizen reporting the problem and only after a dcitizen reports it…..is when they actually have official responcibilty .
I discovered the inspectors only review the crosswalks when a 311 complaint is called in.

I later came across a federal law of ada act law of accessability in which according to the federal government the city is responcible for making sure sidewalks and crosswalks are accessable to the disable.

The question and concerns i have is if they allow potholes and street deformities to develope and wit only till a citizen reports them………….they are not following the ada law.
Leaving potholes means …the crosswalk is inaccessible.
This is a violation.
Not having a maintainous crew evaluate for safety issues……….means that they are not even attempting to follow the law.

I had the dot lawyers tell me since i was the first pedestrian hurt in that hole they were not responcible..not even for medical expenses …($25,000 at least)

It concerns me also when i inquired with the DOT commissioner of all the boroughs…..her responce was. “How can you expect us to fix all the pot holes….there are too many especially after the winter.”

“You cant expect us to fix things..we are responcible for millions of miles of roadway”
(This was a false statement because even the earth’s circumference is not a million miles around.

The point is the Dot and DEP should be accountable for injuries sustained by pedestrians, especially if is the fault and lack of inspections.

In my case i discovered through foil and recovered permit request made prior at least three months prior and one year prior to to work on that crosswalk for safety issues.
If someone requested this permit………they had to review the crosswalks.
Why did they not fill in the hole ….or refer the problem to the correct agency. I would not have been injured.
The lawyer stated permits dont count in the notification …so the city still remains unaccountable.
The lawyer stated asince your pothole and deformity was not included..they are not responcible.

Who is than responcible?
They should fire the contractor or not allow future contracts for not correcting problems they come across
The point is

1. There is a federal law stating the city is responcible for the crosswalks that they are accessable for the disable……than you have the city code stating they are not till a citizen reports the problem.
To me this is a conflict of policies.

I went to a townhall meeting in which the mayor deblasio and city councilman in charge of dot and safety. I wrote down the question about the two conflicting policies ….
I was not picked and it ws told to me when i called to inquire why i was not chosen.
I was told. “We were told we were not allowed to speak with you!”

Is this not a violation of the bill of rights?
The question is still not answered.

I am requesting a team to be formed from DOT and DEP to together speriodically review the crosswalks to access for safety problems so they can be fixed prior to a pedestrian becoming injured.
I asked the dot commissioner and was told they did not have the money.

I recently read about the mayors wife went through $50,000,000 dollars for her little project.
This money could have been used to fix the roads and get inspectors to inspect for potential damage and problems .

I once called the legal department for the city about illegal actions done to me by the city as well as injuries that happened .
They said we are here to help the city and not you. The city is our responcibilty.
I than replied

I thought the government was developed to protect the citizens……?
They was no responce
I am still waiting for city councilman matteo and his Astana to answer my questions pertaining to the conflicting laws.
I still have not gotten a responce and it was m4 years ago when i asked.

The if they cannot change the city code they should at least make an exceptions that the notification bylaw be exempt from this city code.
Especially since nyc is suppose to comply with the laws of accessibility.

Diane drozeck November 24, 2019 - 11:34 pm

Pedestrians should be safe while walking ….not having dot not reviewing the crosswalks and sidewalks…leaving notification of potholes and deformities and safty issues solely to untrained citizens should make nyc dot dep liable for injuries. Shame on this mayor, dot commissioners and nyc council that allows laws that absolutely does not protect the citizens

Diane Drozeck November 24, 2019 - 11:40 pm

ShAme on the mYor, dot commissioners, it’s council for writing a law that
Does not protect the disabled pedestrians simply crossing in a crosswalk. The law stTes nyc is not liable for injuries or death..even if it is the nyc agencies fault for the injury ..unless a citizen ..untrAined in dot orbs the safety issue through 311…
Dot does not have inspectors periodically review streets for safety issues….even when they notice one

Diane drozeck November 25, 2019 - 10:35 am

Request meeting


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