Home Podcast Second Ave. Sagas Podcast, Episode 7: Board member Sarah Feinberg on the state of the MTA

Second Ave. Sagas Podcast, Episode 7: Board member Sarah Feinberg on the state of the MTA

by Benjamin Kabak

Former FRA Administrator and current MTA Board Sarah Feinberg spoke with me at length about all things transit.

Sarah Feinberg, a recent Cuomo appointee to the MTA Board, isn’t quite like the Board members we’re used to around here. While most MTA Board members are long-time or even life-time New Yorkers who operate within the enclosed world of the MTA and its environs, Feinberg came to New York City only recently. She grew up in West Virginia, worked in San Francisco Washington D.C. before arriving in NYC after her stint as the Administrator of the Federal Railway Administration under President Barack Obama. To that end, she brings opinionated views and a more national perspective than the insular MTA often sees.

Eight months into her stint on the MTA Board, Feinberg sat down with me for the latest episode of the Second Ave. Sagas podcast. We talked about her time in Washington and how dealing with a large bureaucracy in D.C. helps her understand the even-larger bureaucracy in New York City. We talked, of course, about Gov. Cuomo and his heavy hand on transit lately and the success of the 14th St. Busway. We dove into whether or not fare evasion is the same problem the MTA claims it to be. And we discussed how the agency needs to understand that the Americans with Disabilities Act — and accessible transit facilities — is the law and not a suggestion. I hope you’ll find this conversation a refreshing and honest glimpse into the way the MTA Board interacts with both the MTA and the governor, and I’ll highlight some bits and pieces from the podcast in the coming weeks.

You can find my conversation with Feinberg at all the popular podcast spots — iTunes, Google Play, Spotify or Pocket Casts, to name a few. Or you can listen by clicking the “play” button below. If you like what you hear and have been enjoying the podcasts, please consider leaving a review on your iTunes.

As always, thank you for listening and thanks as well to Joe Jakubowski for sound engineering. I’ve been enjoying producing these podcasts but they take a lot of time and effort. I can keep doing them only through the generous contributions of my listeners so please consider joining the Second Ave. Sagas Patreon. Since this site runs entirely on Patreon contributions, I can keep it going only with your help.

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Larry Penner October 17, 2019 - 10:15 pm

Moody’s Investment Firm recent report predicts that the proposed MTA $51 Billion 2020 – 2024 Five Year Capital Plan will add $38 billion in long term debt. This is on top of the MTA’s current $44 billion debt. Don’t be surprised if this new plan is reduced by billions. There may also be future service cuts, reduction in employee salary increases, delays in routine maintenance, reduction in capital projects scope of work or delaying other capital projects until the next MTA 2025 – 2029 Five Year Capital Plan is adopted. The MTA reminds me of Wimpy who said “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” Wimpy paid his debts the following Tuesday. The MTA never seems to pay its debts, but just keeps on borrowing more to pay for future capital projects. If you or I managed our finances like the MTA, we would be serving hard time in debtors prison.

(Larry Penner is a transportation historian, writer and advocate who previously worked 31 years for the United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions in capital projects and programs for the MTA, NYC Transit, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North Rail Road MTA Bus along with 30 other transit agencies in NY & NJ).

The Hunkster October 19, 2019 - 10:59 am

Another great podcast indeed Ben.

AMH October 25, 2019 - 1:08 pm

I’ve been impressed by her performance on the board, and I’m even more impressed after listening to your interview! I appreciate her nuanced position on fare evasion.


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