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Jay Walder Responds

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 - 09:43 AM

Jay Walder, chairman of the MTA, responds to some of the listeners' comments and concerns, after his October 5th visit to the Brian Lehrer Show.

Dear Brian,
 
Thank you for having me on the program on Tuesday morning. I always appreciate the opportunity to talk with you and to answer questions from our customers who are your listeners.
 
We are reaching out via Facebook to the caller who spoke of problems reaching an employee with the intercom at 181st Street. I’ve also spent some time after the show looking at the comments that your listeners left on your website. Seeing the volume of the comments reminds me how fundamental the MTA’s services are to our lives as New Yorkers. There were nearly 100 responses within an hour of my segment on the program. I can't respond to every comment individually, but I wanted to share some thoughts on some of the major topics that came up.
 
Fares
 
The MTA was able to limit the fare revenue increase to 7.5%, as agreed to with the Governor and Legislature in May 2009 as part of the MTA rescue package, despite a $900 million shortfall for 2010 resulting from cuts to State assistance and dramatic downturns in tax revenue. We were able to do this through the most comprehensive internal cost cutting initiative ever undertaken at the MTA, which will save the agency $380 million in 2010, translating into more than $500 million in annual recurring savings.
 
The fare proposal is designed to raise the necessary revenue while maintaining ridership as much as possible, minimizing impacts to lower-income customers, and increasing efficiencies of fare collection. Some listeners asked about of the customer impacts of increases to different types of MetroCards. From a recent survey of customers, we know that the median household income for users of the 30-day MetroCard is $63,000. Users of the 30-day unlimited card have a median household income of $63,000, which is the highest of all New York City Transit customers. They would continue to benefit from significant discounts on a per-ride basis as compared with pay-per-ride users. (A rider taking 90 rides in a month would pay $1.16 per ride.) By comparison, users of the 7-day card have a median household income of $38,000.
 
Tolls
 
As I said on the air, there are two different toll proposals. The first would fairly evenly distribute the increase to both E-ZPass and cash customers. The second would increase tolls paid by our cash customers by a slightly larger amount while leaving E-ZPass tolls unchanged. Clearly there's a healthy debate between cash customers and the E-ZPass customers about which proposal we should take. Both proposals are on our website. We'll be looking at both options, and the decision will be made at end of October.
 
Technology
 
I agree with Rob from Brooklyn who notes that our countdown clock effort is not about breaking new ground technologically or adding a fancy, never-before-seen new feature. The countdown clocks are about providing a level of service that is in place in much of the world. However, the monetary investment in these clocks has already taken place. What we've done is taken a new approach to the way the clocks are being managed so the benefits are realized more quickly. I believe that being able to know how much longer until your train or bus is coming is a very real and significant benefit, potentially transforming the way our customers use our services. While we have had service cuts, the reality is we move 8.5 million a day and we have an obligation to continue to improve service in cost effective ways.
 
Balancing the MTA budget
 
Finally, a number of your listeners, like Lucy from Brooklyn and Carter from EV, raise questions about how efficient we are at the MTA, asking whether we're really using the money wisely. As noted above in response to the fare questions, we are fundamentally overhauling the way the MTA does business. This has so far included eliminating more than 3,500 administrative and operating positions through layoffs, voluntary separations and elimination of vacant positions, freezing pay for management employees, increasing efficiency of paratransit and Bridge and Tunnel operations, dramatically reducing the use of overtime, eliminating or deferring projects, consolidating functions, renegotiating contracts with vendors and more efficiently managing our inventories.
 
 
Jay Walder

 

 

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Comments [4]

mary from Manhattan

Your recent topics-- courtesy on buses and subways and among cars, pedestrians and bicyclists-- are related. People really don't know. Example: an adult with two toddlers boards a bus or train and takes three seats. There used to be signs "Little enough to ride for free? Little enough to ride your knee" As a driver, I would appreciate posted public service announcements. "When the Don't Walk starts to flash, it's time for motorists to make their turn." It could even be part of the electronic sign: "Don't walk, cars turning"

Oct. 15 2010 08:46 AM
upper west sider from nyc

I'm probably too late for the Chairman to see this comment, but hopefully someone will respond. I hope when the countdown clocks are activated at the West 4th Street station that the info for ABCD lines appear on both levels, There are many stops along CPW served by B&C trains, and it would make for more efficient, safer travel (no more running down or up two flights of stairs at break neck speeds in the hopes of catching a train) to have that info on both uptown and both downtown platforms. Thanks.

Oct. 14 2010 02:42 PM
VLM

Stuart: You're whining that, one day, you had to wait for a train a few minutes longer than normal. If the MTA responded to everyone who wanted to know why their trains were delayed, the only thing they'd do is answer complaints. Get over it.

Oct. 14 2010 11:34 AM
Stuart from Manhattan

One week after the Chairman's visit - and still no phone call or letter in response to my complaints from August. Some things never change (except the price of a ride)...

Once again - here's my complaint:

On August 5, I waited on a hot platform for 15 minutes during the height of the afternoon rush for a train that was supposed to come every 2-3 minutes. There were no announcements. I made 2 phone calls to customer service, who could provide no explanation. After a week of no repsonse, I followed up with a letter addressed to Chairman Walder expressing my concerns. After 6 more weeks of no repsonse, I followed up by phone, and no one could find a record of either of my phone calls, or my letter. At this time, I don't want an explanation of why the train didn't arrive on time. What I need to know is this - how do complaints get recorded, how is it possible that three complaints remain unaswered and have disappeared into the black hole of MTA bureaucracy, and what is the Chairman going to do about it?

Oct. 13 2010 10:29 AM

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