Transit Systems That Make Money

Friday, August 05, 2011

How does the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway make money, and what can the MTA learn from it? Alex Marshall, senior fellow at the Regional Plan Association, independent journalist and author of How Cities Work: Suburbs, Sprawl, and the Roads Not Taken and Beneath the Metropolis: The Secret Lives of Cities, weighs in.


Alex Marshall

Comments [10]

Alex Marshall from Brooklyn

His, this is Alex Marshall, the guy who was on the show. Comments 2 and 3 of Randi from Brooklyn struck me as right on. I suspect there is pressure on the MTA to lowball properties. This is a big problem, if true. Money is literally being taken out of taxpayer's pockets and put into private hands. On the third point, the MTA does need good long-term leadership. There should be a custom, which to some extent already exists but not enough, to appoint a great director and have him remain through successive administrations if he is performing well. (Or her).

Aug. 05 2011 07:36 PM
Randi from Brooklyn

This is an interesting discussion. As a former MTA employee I can tell you the challenges of the system:

1. The subway system is MUCH older. The IRT subway lines (except for the 7 train) date to the 1900s and the plan of the subway was just to transport people. Also all of the lines of the NYC subway was built by seperate transportation companies and during different years. Hong Kong's subway was built in the 70s and had the luxury of preplanning.

2. The MTA does own a lot of land, but because of too much political pressure the MTA has to always low ball itself and cherry pick who they sell/lease land to.

3. The leadership issue is a problem, but that's due to the political nature of the agency. Its a state agency and the governor picks who runs it - so that means that every four years the leadership changes. If there's less political influence in the system I think the leadership would be more stable and could make better long term decisions.

Aug. 05 2011 11:48 AM
Timothy from Brooklyn

The MTA does this already to some extent, I think. Just last month, in fact, there was a lot of news about the MTA approving a lease in Grand Central for the Apple Store.

As I understand it, the MTA is the landlord for all the stores in Grand Central Terminal.


Aug. 05 2011 11:46 AM
RL from the bowery

Consumers have to decide if they want great service and higher fares or lower fares and less services. This is mass transit not limo rides. Give me a buck per ride fare and keep your silly countdown clocks, etc.

Aug. 05 2011 11:45 AM
N ick from UWS

That's all the people of NY have the MTA as their landlord. Jesus Christ....

Aug. 05 2011 11:41 AM

EVEN IF the MTA and the city owned the land around the subway hubs and had the foresight to develop commercial properties there, they would then GIVE it to private business to make the millions. Witness billionaire Bloomberg's handling of Atlantic Yards.

Aug. 05 2011 11:41 AM
Larry from Brooklyn

MTA has revenue from bridge tolls like the PA in addition to a real estate portfolio. Isn't it really that the MTA has much higher costs than the PA (I mean the PATH is a very tiny rail system).

Aug. 05 2011 11:40 AM
N ick from UWS

The NY MTA suffers because of corruption, waste, mismanagement and stupidity. If ever there was a subject for intense investigative reporting, it would be what goes on behind closed doors at the MTA.

Aug. 05 2011 11:39 AM

numerous advantages to a state-run economy. lots of state run economies also have profitable postal services -- because they also run as banks and even isps.

as far as making money by linking real estate with transportation development -- needn't we only look as far as nj's lautenberg center, designed as a transit hub followed by a mini-city to develop around it??

Aug. 05 2011 11:38 AM
tony from bayside

The mta could fund-raise like wnyc. If I knew that the mta was going to build a project that was needed (i.e. street-car in red hoook) i would donate! Bring back the commuter tax.

Aug. 05 2011 11:37 AM

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