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Jay Walder

Transportation Nation

Budgeting By Credit Card: How The NY MTA Got Into Debt And Why It Must Get Out

Thursday, August 25, 2011

(Colby Hamilton -- New York, NY - The Empire) Jay Walder’s resignation as head of the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority last month caught city and state officials totally by surprise. The man that had guided the transit agency through the fiscal crisis fallout by implementing harsh but largely unavoidable cutbacks—fare hikes, and budget gouging—was leaving. He’s taking a gig in Hong Kong that pays three times as much, running a system that is posting sizable profits.

A few days later, Walder and the rest of the MTA board dropped the latest budget numbers on riders. The agency’s five-year capital program—the money pool that pays for big projects like the 2nd Avenue subway line and the 7 train extension, as well as overall maintenance—was underfunded by $9 billion for the final three years. The agency is adding a fare hike in 2015, on top of the scheduled fare increase next year. It also wants to borrow $6.9 billion to help cover these costs.

This is a sorry song that New York straphangers have been listening to for years now. The public response was less of an outrage than an exhausted sigh. Given the perennial state of crises the MTA finds itself in, and the continued financial burdens being passed along to riders, it’s worth remembering the immortal words of David Byrne: “You may ask yourself, ‘Well, how did I get here?’”

How DID we get here?

There are many factors that have led to the abysmal fiscal situation of the MTA. Tax receipts vanishing in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis didn’t help. Neither does Albany legislators’ stealing funds from the agency to pay for other things. The agency’s debt obligations alone take 20 cents from every dollar it pulls in.

Likewise, many people could—and should—be held responsible, from elected officials to appointed board members, unions to business leaders. But out of this pool of transit tragedy one person bears a disproportionate responsibility for the current mess the nation’s largest public transit system is in.

That person is former Governor George Pataki.

Understanding how the Pataki administration is culpable for today’s problems requires heading back to the beginning of 1980. To be fair to the Pataki people, the former governor was in many ways just following the trail blazed by his predecessors. For the 20 years prior, the MTA had borrowed to finance its upkeep and improvement, a decision that saved the system. But what started as a fiscal pill to quiet the immediate pain of a system nearing collapse turned into a budget addiction that has torn the agency apart.

For more, go to this story on WNYC's Empire blog and continue reading after subhead, "An Initial Rescue."

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WNYC News

Cuomo Forms Committee to Search for Next MTA Chief

Monday, August 08, 2011

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a search committee to find a replacement for outgoing Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Jay Walder, who abruptly announced his resignation last month.

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The Empire

Cuomo names his advisory committee to replace MTA chief Jay Walder

Monday, August 08, 2011

(Courtsey of the Governor's office)

Earlier today Governor Cuomo announced the formation of an advisory committee to help find a replacement for Jay Walder, who will leave as head of the MTA in October.

"This committee will help conduct a national and international search to find and recommend the most talented candidates for the next chairman of the MTA," Governor Cuomo said in a statement. "I am committed to appointing a new chairman who will put straphangers first and who will continue to reform the MTA by reducing costs and waste, while improving efficiency and service."

The full list of appointees are below. The Regional Plan Association's Robert Yaro, who made the list, praised the governor for assembling the committee. "Governor Cuomo has charged this committee with assisting in the selection of a new chairman for the MTA and over the next months we will help evaluate and review top public transportation professionals from across the nation," he said in a statement.

William Henderson, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, said the advisory committee should seek another CEO-like figure to head the sprawling bureaucratic agency.

"Sometimes it's more than what other folks face when they're answering to a board and running a a system that's a relatively straight forward system," Henderson said. "Its' not so much an operating job as being the CEO of a large, $12 billion operation."

Intimate knowledge of the city's subway system was at the top of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign's spokesperson Veronica Vanterpool's list of requirements for the job. "We need someone who has a strong know of New York City transportation issues in particular," she noted, going on to say the next head of the MTA needed to improve the agency's "credibility with the public."

"It's been a historical perception; it's not just due to one person," she said.

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Transportation Nation

Wanted: Someone Brave--Foolhardy?--Enough To Lead the NY MTA

Monday, August 08, 2011


(New York, NY - WNYC) New York Governor Cuomo moments ago announced a search committee (full release at end of post) to find a replacement for outgoing NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Jay Walder, who abruptly announced his resignation last month. On October 21, Walder will forsake what has been America's plummest transit job to become CEO of MTR Corporation, a deep-pocketed private rail company in Hong Kong.

Among those asked to sift resumes and conduct interviews as members of the committee are former Deputy U.S. Transportation Secretary Mortimer Downey,  Former Lt. Governor Richard Ravitch, and MTA watchdogs Gene Russianoff of The Straphangers Campaign and Bob Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association.

The group has a much wider span than Cuomo's transportation transition committee, which had no planners or transit advocates among its membership.

If the past is a guide, Cuomo will choose the next chair of the nation's largest transit system from one of two broad categories: a politically connected ally or campaign donor, like his choice to head the New York Thruway Authority; or a high-profile transportation professional in the mold of Walder and his predecessor, Eliot Sander.

Cuomo has spoken sparingly about transportation policy--his first months in office were marked by other priorities, like tax cuts, an on-time budget, and gay marriage--so it is difficult to divine his leanings on who'll get to helm the NY MTA through the storms ahead. (For a laugh-until-you-cry take on the near-apocalyptic forces arrayed against the authority, read this fake job posting that seeks a "politically savvy transit manager willing to preside over the gradual re-collapse of New York City's transit system...")

But transit watchers have noted with interest that the governor, in putting together his search committee, has reached out beyond government officials and other usual suspects.

The new chairperson will face a bewildering array of challenges as soon as he or she slides into the $350,000 a year position. The 2012-2015 capital construction plan has a $9 billion dollar shortfall; a crucial labor negotiation looms with the Transit Workers Union, which has already declared that the authority's plan to win a three-year contract with no wage increases is dead-on-arrival; and yet another fare increase is scheduled for next year--and two years after that. In addition, a faction of the state legislature is on the warpath against a mobility tax instituted in 2009 to shore up the NY MTA budget. The authority's chief financial officer has warned that repealing the tax, as Senate Republicans are angling to do, will collapse the NY MTA's already shaky fiscal stability.

"Jay Walder made great strides," said one transit advocate. "He improved the credibility of the MTA with the public and the state legislature. He found more cost efficiencies than in many years. But he's still winning over the public. That’s not something that’s going to be done in two years after thirty years of disappointing and infuriating the public."

And it will soon no longer be his headache, but someone else's.

Here's the full press release from Governor Cuomo:

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES MTA SEARCH ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Committee will assist with search for new MTA chairman

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the creation of an MTA Search Advisory Committee that will assist in recommending and evaluating candidates for the next chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

"This committee will help conduct a national and international search to find and recommend the most talented candidates for the next chairman of the MTA," Governor Cuomo said. "I am committed to appointing a new chairman who will put straphangers first and who will continue to reform the MTA by reducing costs and waste, while improving efficiency and service."

The advisory committee is comprised of leading public transportation experts and management professionals in the public and private sectors. An executive search and recruitment firm, Krauthamer & Associates, has been engaged to assist in the process. The Governor's appointment of an MTA chairman is subject to Senate confirmation.

Mortimer Downey, former Deputy Secretary of U.S. Department of Transportation, said, "This committee will assist with a comprehensive review and evaluation process of top-tier professionals to be considered for next chairman of the MTA. With tight budget pressures and hard decisions ahead, the new chairman must ensure the MTA provides quality service while meeting tough fiscal demands. Governor Cuomo's strong commitment to the MTA is reflected in this committee's membership of experienced civic leaders and public transportation experts."

Gene Russianoff, Senior Attorney of the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, said, "The next chairman and CEO of the MTA will shape transportation policies in the New York metropolitan region for millions of daily riders, and I congratulate the Governor for putting together a great panel to seek the best possible candidates."

Robert Yaro, President of the Regional Plan Association, said, "Governor Cuomo has charged this committee with assisting in the selection of a new chairman for the MTA and over the next months we will help evaluate and review top public transportation professionals from across the nation. I commend the Governor for assembling this committee to assist with finding a new chairman, and I look forward to continuing to work together to revitalize our state's public transportation system."

Members of the Committee include:

Vincent Alvarez, President, New York City Central Labor Council
Mr. Alvarez is President of the New York City Central Labor Council, an organization that represents more than one million union members. Mr. Alvarez is the council's first Hispanic and first full-time president. He previously served as deputy legislative director of the New York State A.F.L-C.I.O, and was former Chief of Staff at the Council.

Lillian Borrone, Board Chair, Eno Transportation Foundation
Ms. Borrone currently chairs the Eno Transportation Foundation, a nonprofit organization that partners with government agencies, professional and private organizations to improve the mobility, safety and sustainability of transportation systems. Ms. Borrone previously served as the Assistant Executive Director of the Port Authority of NY and NJ, and also held positions as the Director of the Port Commerce Department and Director of Management and Budget.

Stanley Brezenoff, President and CEO, Continuum Health Partners
Mr. Brezenoff currently serves as the President and CEO of Continuum Health Partners, a hospital system that includes Beth Israel Medical Center, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, Long Island College Hospital and The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. Previously, he served as the Executive Director of the Port Authority of NY and NJ, and was the former Deputy Mayor of Operations, as well as the First Deputy Mayor of New York City, during the Koch administration.

Mary Ann Crotty, Former Director of State Operations
Ms. Crotty is the former Deputy Secretary for Transportation and former Director of State Operations under Governor Mario Cuomo.

Beverly Dolinsky, Former Executive Director, Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee
Ms. Dolinsky formerly served as the Executive Director Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA for 25 years. Ms. Dolinksy also was the first riders' representative on the MTA board, a non-voting seat that was established in 1995, where she served for 8 years.

Mortimer Downey, Former Deputy Secretary, US Department of Transportation
Mr. Downey formerly served as the Deputy Secretary at US Department of Transportation during the Clinton Administration. He is currently Secretary of the Eno Transportation Foundation and a Senior Advisor for Parsons Brinckerhoff. He began his career at the Port Authority of NY and NJ, where he held various positions. Mr. Downey has also served as the Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer of the New York MTA.

Fernando Ferrer, Board Member, MTA
Mr. Ferrer formerly served as Bronx Borough President from 1987 to 2001. Upon leaving this post, he ran for mayor of New York in both 2001 and 2005. He is the former director of the Drum Hill Institute, and is a current co-chairman of Mercury Public Affairs.

Howard Glaser, Director of State Operations

Sidney Holmes, Partner, Winston Strawn LLP
Mr. Holmes is a corporate partner at Winston Strawn LLP, and has served as bond counsel, underwriter's counsel, and bank counsel in virtually every type of municipal bond financing throughout the United States and its territories. In May 2008, Mr. Holmes was appointed by New York Governor David Paterson to serve as a commissioner of the Port Authority of NY and NJ. Mr. Holmes is also a commissioner of the New York State Insurance Fund and is a board member of the New York Urban League, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation.

Denis Hughes, President, New York State AFL-CIO
Mr. Hughes is the current president of the 2.5 million-member New York State AFL-CIO. He first became a union member at the age of 16 when he joined the Retail Clerks Union, and later joined the AFL-CIO as Political Director and Assistant to the President. He was first elected as President in 1999, and was subsequently re-elected to three consecutive terms. Mr. Hughes has also served as Commissioner of the New York State Insurance Fund, and was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

William Longhi, President & CEO, Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc.
Mr. Longhi has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc. since February 2009. Previously, he served as Senior Vice President of Central Operations at Con Edison Company of New York. Since joining Con Edison in 1976, Mr. Longhi has held a variety of positions throughout the company, including Vice President of Operations at O&R in 2000 and 2001.

Mitchell Moss, Director, Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management
Prior to his appointment as Director of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, Mr. Moss was the Director of NYU's Taub Urban Research Center, where he directed research projects for the National Science Foundation, Charles Revson Foundation, U.S. Department of Commerce, New York State Economic Development Corporation, and leading private corporations. Professor Moss has been on the faculty of NYU since 1973.

Richard Ravitch, Former Lieutenant Governor of New York
Mr. Ravitch is a veteran public servant, having worked in both federal and state government for decades. In the late 1960s, Ravitch left his family's construction firm to join President Lyndon Johnson's administration. Under President Johnson, Ravitch served as a member of the United States Commission on Urban Problems and was elected president of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council. Later, under Governor Hugh Carey, Mr. Ravitch served as chairman of the New York State Urban Development Corporation, rescuing the agency from near-bankruptcy. Mr. Ravitch went onto become chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. In 2008, Governor Paterson tapped him to chair a commission charged with restoring the MTA to sound financial footing and he subsequently served as Lieutenant Governor. Currently Mr. Ravitch is a partner at New York based law firm Ravitch, Rice & Co.

Bill Rudin, Chairman, Association for a Better NY
In addition to serving as the Chair of the Association for a Better NY, Mr. Rudin is currently the President of Rudin Management Company, Inc. He also serves as Chairman of the Board for the Battery Conservancy and as a member of the Boards of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Real Estate Board of New York and New York University.

Gene Russianoff, Senior Attorney, NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign
Mr. Russianoff is senior attorney and chief spokesman for the Straphangers Campaign for NYPIRG, a Manhattan-based public transportation advocacy group that focuses mainly on subway and bus services run by New York City Transit. Mr. Russianoff has worked for NYPIRG since his graduation from Harvard Law School in 1978.

Desmond Ryan, Executive Director, Association for a Better Long Island
Mr. Ryan is the Executive Director at ALBI. Previously, Mr. Ryan worked at Grumman Aerospace where he worked in public affairs issues in both Washington, D.C. and Albany. He has also served as Director of Government Affairs at the Long Island Association, and worked in the Office of the New York State Assembly Speaker in the 1980s where he focused on legislative issues affecting the Long Island region.

Thomas Schwarz, President, SUNY Purchase
Mr. Schwarz has served as President of SUNY Purchase since 2003. He is a retired partner from Skadden, Arps, Meagher and Flom, which he originally joined in 1969. At Skadden, he was National Practice Leader of the Litigation Department and the founding partner of the firm's Committee on Diversity. Mr. Schwarz served as mayor of the village of Ocean Beach in Suffolk County from 1978 to 1987 and was Special Counsel to the New York State Commission on Government Integrity 1987-1991. He also served as acting president of Hamilton College in 1999.

Rodney Slater, Partner, Patton Boggs
Mr. Slater is a partner at Patton Boggs. Previously, Mr. Slater served as Secretary of the US Department of Transportation during the Clinton Administration. He also served as director of the Federal Highway Administration. He is also a partner at James Lee Witt Associates and currently serves on the board of directors of Africare and The Dance Theater of Harlem. He is the chair of the Board of Trustees of United Way and serves on the corporate boards of Delta Air Lines and Verizon.

Robert Steel, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development

Robert K. Steel is currently the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. He is responsible for the city's five-borough economic development strategy and job-creation efforts, and spearheads major development projects city-wide. Deputy Mayor Steel oversees various agencies including the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Department of City Planning, Department of Small Business Services, NYC Economic Development Corporation and NYC & Company. Previously, Mr. Steel was the President and CEO of Wachovia. He also formerly served as Under Secretary for Domestic Finance at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Prior to entering government service, Mr. Steel spent nearly three decades at Goldman Sachs, where he became co-head of the U.S. Equities Division and Vice Chairman of the firm.

Robert Yaro, President, Regional Plan Association

Mr. Yaro is currently President of Regional Plan Association, the nation's oldest independent metropolitan policy, research, and advocacy group. Mr. Yaro also co-chairs the Empire State Transportation Alliance and the Friends of Moynihan Station, and is Vice President of the Forum for Urban Design.

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WNYC News

MTA Chief Jay Walder's Abrupt Resignation Leaves Many Stunned

Friday, July 22, 2011

WNYC

The head of New York’s transit agency abruptly announced he was leaving after less than two years on the job. The news took almost everyone by surprise, including some of his closest advisers. Top leaders in government and business learned only as the MTA was making the announcement public Thursday afternoon.

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Transportation Nation

Walder's Time As NY MTA Chief Marked By Accomplishments, Unfinished Business

Friday, July 22, 2011

(New York, NY - WNYC) NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Jay Walder has been poached by a private rail company only two years into his six-year term. His plans to improve the lot of the 11 million weekday riders who depend on the authority’s vast array of subways and buses, rail lines, bridges and tunnels will remain incomplete.

The sudden departure comes as many important developments hang in the balance--from completion of mega-projects like the Second Avenue subway to an impending contract negotiation with a major transit union.

With the exception of the Transport Workers Union, who issued a statement yesterday essentially saying "good riddance," the emerging consensus is that Walder was the right man to lead the authority through troubled times.

In a press release on Walder's move, the advocacy group Tri-State Transportation Campaign summed up the feelings of many in New York's government, business, transit and non-profit worlds: "His departure comes at an inopportune time."

The reason is twofold. In general, planners, advocates and business leaders liked the job Walder was doing--NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg called him "a first-rate leader with big ideas." But many have also been wondering how Walder was planning to pull off the feat of convincing NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature to plug a $9 billion hole in the authority's capital construction and maintenance program.

That particular showdown is set for the fall. Walder will either avoid it or confront it as a lame duck with an October 21 departure date. Either way, his replacement will need to get quickly up to speed. The five-year capital program runs out of money at the end of the year.

Walder gets good grades because he largely accomplished the mandate he'd received on his appointment by former Governor David Paterson: balance the NY MTA's budget, which was $800 million in the red. And he did that without the extra funding the Paterson administration had sought from bridge tolls.

Walder did it by making draconian service cuts last year, especially to bus lines in the outer boroughs, and raising fares by 7.5 percent. Fares are set go up again next year by the same percentage. While riders felt the pain of those measures, transit watchers and business leaders gave Walder generally high marks for imposing fiscal discipline.

Not everyone approved.

Walder angered Transport Workers Union Local 100 in advance of an upcoming contract negotiation when he said labor had not "played an active part" in helping the MTA face its budget crisis. About the departing transit chief, TWU 100 had this to say on Thursday:

"[Walder] leaves New York City transit in worse shape than when he arrived less than two years ago. We will urge the Governor to appoint a new Chair who will view his workers as allies not the enemy, and a person who fully grasps the magnitude of the contribution of the public transportation system to the economic vitality of New York.”

But others praised Walder for taking once unthinkable steps, like slashing the authority's administrative payroll. As Tri-State put it: "He helped restore the agency's credibility and changed the way it does business, finding billions of dollars in savings during his tenure."

Walder arrived from his previous job as managing director of London Transport with a reputation for innovation and a willingness to tackle big projects. He told WNYC during his first days on the job that, "I would love to bring some of the innovation of London to New York." In particular, he said he'd like to see countdown clocks and "a simpler fare-paying system."

Today, countdown clocks are up and running in 161 subway stations, with 18 more expected to get them by the end of the year. But simpler fare-paying--turnstiles that open with the wave of a debit card--is still in the pilot stage. The most optimistic roll-out date for a successor to the Metrocard is 2015.

Walder also introduced real-time bus tracking projects and oversaw two redesigns of the NY MTA website--riders can now check the service status of a subway, rail or bus line from a more user-friendly NY MTA homepage. And he made available much of the authority's long-secret data to software developers, who've started churning out mobile apps that do things like show commuter line schedules or help riders choose the subway car that will get them closest to their station exit.

In leaving the NY MTA for MTR, Walder will be jumping from the world's largest public transit system to a private rail company, albeit one that made a reported net profit of $937 million in 2009. As he readies his exit, we'll excerpt the musings of Benjamin Kabak, the voice of a savvy transit blog called Second Avenue Sagas:

"As the news sinks in...I can’t help but feel as though Walder is leaving before the job is done....Walder was the best and most knowledgeable MTA head during the past few decades, and his departure is clearly a blow to the MTA and those fighting for better transit in the New York City area."

 

 

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WNYC News

Walder's Time as MTA Chief Marked by Fiscal Discipline, Unfinished Business

Thursday, July 21, 2011

WNYC

Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Jay Walder abruptly announced his resignation Thursday after just two years into his six-year term — and though he was considered a shrewd fiscal disciplinarian his departure comes as many important developments hang in the balance, from completion of mega-projects like the Second Avenue subway to an impending contract negotiation with a major union.

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Transportation Nation

NY MTA Chief Leaves for "Much Better Job"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

MTA Chairman Jay Walder meets the press earlier this year.

UPDATED The head of New York’s transit agency abruptly announced he was leaving after less than two years on the job. The news took almost everyone by surprise, including some of his closest advisors. Top leaders in government and business learned only as the MTA was making the announcement public Thursday afternoon.

Even New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday morning he didn't get a call until yesterday.

Walder is leaving to be the CEO of MTR, a Hong Kong-based company that runs transit and rail systems in Asia, London, Stockholm, and Melbourne.

“I’m stunned, shocked,” said Kate Slevin, Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a planning group. Walder, well-placed sources say, held the news close to the vest, and informed business leaders, government officials, and staff just hours before the MTA official announcement.

“He told me he regrets he has to choose between the job he loves here, and a much better job,” said Kathryn Wylde, head of the Partnership for New York City, a business group. Wylde said Walder had been meeting with her group up until very recently to discuss new initiatives in New York’s transit system.

The only hint that Walder was leaving was that the transit chief, who has school-age children, told associates he’d recently taken a family vacation to Hong Kong so he could see the transit system there.

Walder was appointed by former Governor David Paterson. The 6’6” tall, dome-pated transit chief, who had been a top official at London Transport, was lured from a job in the private sector only after being promised a $350,000 bonus should he be pushed out – a promise he extracted after turmoil following the resignation of former Governor Eliot Spitzer.

When Governor Andrew Cuomo took office this fall, transit watchers held their breath to see if Cuomo would ask Walder to leave. But Walder told associates that he had no indication from Governor Cuomo that the Governor wanted him to leave.

“For nearly two years, Jay Walder has shown true leadership at the helm of the MTA and been a fiscally responsible manager during these difficult financial times,” said Governor Cuomo in a statement. “Riders of the MTA are better off today because of Jay's expertise and the reforms he initiated will benefit all for years to come. Jay's departure is a loss for the MTA and for the state, but I thank him for his service and wish him the best in his future endeavors."

As CEO of MTR, Walder will get a much bigger compensation package than his current $350,000 salary, and will preside over a company that not only runs trains, but that owns the land around them. That land, and property development, provide a rich source of revenue for MTR, which, unlike the NY MTA, has seemingly endless expansion opportunities, including connecting Hong Kong to Mainland China’s 10,000 mile high speed rail network.

By contrast, Walder has presided over excruciating cuts at the MTA. During his tenure, driven by an $800-bllion budget gap, Walder made the most severe cuts in a generation, ending dozens of bus lines, shutting down two train lines, ending weekend bus service in some areas, and making trains noticeably less frequent. And the fares jumped this year by 7.5 percent, and will again next year.

But the cuts, fare hikes and layoffs -- in particular the slashing of hundreds of station agent jobs -- earned Walder the lasting enmity of transit workers. “Transit workers won’t miss Jay Walder and quite frankly will be glad to see him go,” said TWU Local 100 President John Samuelson in a statement. “He has been antagonistic to the union and the workers from his first day on the job. His attempt last year to blackmail the union into major pay and other concessions led to gratuitous layoffs. He ushered in unprecedented service cuts in both subway and bus service, with particular insensitivity to already underserved areas of Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. He never grasped the notion that our bus and subway systems are the most basic and vital service afforded to New York’s working class.”

Walder has relied on technology to make up what he can’t in more frequent service.  Hundreds of subway platforms now have displays that tell riders when the train is coming, the Authority is piloting “oyster cards,” which allow riders to swipe and pay, and releasing MTA data to app developers to better distribute schedule information.

The next chief “will have very big shoes to fill” said Tom Wright, Executive Director of the Regional Plan Association. “Figuratively and literally. It’s worrisome for all of us because this is such a critical time at the MTA. Ridership is up, the demands on the system are up, and there are real financial concerns.”

On Tuesday, the authority announced it would cut back its current capital construction plan by $2 billion, and neither the state legislature nor the governor have shown themselves in any mood to raise revenues to support transit.

“Years ago, the plum job in transit was head of the New York system,” said Buz Paaswell, a CUNY Professor and expert in urban transit systems. “And now the plum jobs are in Asia. Well run, beautifully designed, economically sound. As a New Yorker, I’m concerned.”

 

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The Empire

MTA chair and CEO Jay Walder resigns (corrected)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The head of the MTA, Jay Walder, has resigned. Brought in under Governor David Paterson, Walder has served only two of the six years of his appointment. He has reportedly taken a new position with Hong Kong's public transportation system.

The head of the MTA serves at the will of the governor. The head of the MTA is appointed to a six-year term. Walder, who only served two of those years, was generally seen as a highly-effective leader, who could work inside the political world, as well as with transportation advocates. But governor's are often keen to replace even the most effective MTA heads with someone of their choosing. Whether that was the case in this situation remains to be seen. We'll keep you posted.

From Kate Slevin, Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director:

MTA Chairman and CEO Jay Walder has been an effective, innovative leader. He helped restore the agency's credibility and changed the way it does business, finding billions of dollars in savings during his tenure.

From Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office:

Jay Walder is a world-class transportation professional and any city in the world would have been lucky to have him. He set a new course for the MTA during an extremely difficult period when the agency was not given the resources required to meet the City’s needs. He expertly shepherded major projects like the 7 line extension and new bus rapid transit lines, and by embracing new technology, he made significant improvements to the customer experience – from gateless tolling on bridges to countdown clocks in subway stations – that the public will appreciate long after his departure...He is the type of person we can’t afford to lose, and his departure is a real loss for New York City, the metropolitan region, the state and the country.

From Governor Andrew Cuomo's office:

For nearly two years, Jay Walder has shown true leadership at the helm of the MTA and been a fiscally responsible manager during these difficult financial times. Riders of the MTA are better off today because of Jay's expertise and the reforms he initiated will benefit all for years to come. Jay's departure is a loss for the MTA and for the state, but I thank him for his service and wish him the best in his future endeavors.

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Transportation Nation

NY MTA Chief Jay Walder, Head of Nation's Largest Transit System, Abruptly Resigns

Thursday, July 21, 2011

MTA Chairman Jay Walder meets the press (file)

Full article here.

Jay Walder's tenure, evaluated, here.

From the NYC MTA:

MTA Chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder

Announces Resignation

Brought Stability and Customer Improvements During Economic Crisis

Accepts Position as CEO of MTR Corp. in Hong Kong

Jay H. Walder today informed Governor Cuomo of his intention to resign his position as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority effective as of the close of business on October 21st, 2011.  Mr. Walder will be joining the MTR Corporation in Hong Kong as Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors. The MTR is a publicly-traded company that operates rail services in Asia and Europe, and is involved in a wide range of business activities, including consulting and property development.

(Letter of resignation here. )

“I want to thank Governors Cuomo and former Governor Paterson for the honor of serving the people of New York State,” Walder said.  “The MTA’s transportation system is the foundation of the metropolitan region and we are fortunate to have thousands of dedicated men and women who work so hard to provide these critically important transportation services to millions of people each and every day.  I believe that we have accomplished quite a lot in a short period, with the support of two Governors, the Mayor, a hard-working Board and many others.”

 

Walder joined the MTA in October 2009, and in less than two years led an unprecedented overhaul of how the MTA operates, bringing fiscal stability and advancing a series of projects that are improving the daily experience of the MTA’s 8.5 million riders.

 

Under the banner of “Making Every Dollar Count,” Walder introduced efficiency measures that are expected to yield $3.8 billion in cumulative savings by 2014.  The effort focused on streamlining the MTA’s seven companies, consolidating functions and eliminating redundancies.  In the face of a fiscal crisis, contracts were renegotiated with suppliers, healthcare arrangements were rebid and administrative costs were reduced across the board.

 

At the same time, Walder drove a customer service agenda that showed customers a new vision for 21st century transit service even as costs were reduced.  Countdown clocks were activated at more than 150 stations, security cameras were brought online, a new user-friendly web site was introduced, an all-electronic tolling pilot was launched and new smart card technology was tested and is moving forward for the entire transportation system.  The introduction of Select Bus Service on the busiest bus route in the country – along with bus-lane enforcement cameras – demonstrated the promise of the MTA’s bus system. Real-time bus information debuted in Brooklyn and will reach Staten Island by the end of the year.

 

“In challenging times, we brought stability and credibility to the MTA by making every dollar count, by delivering long overdue improvements and by refusing to settle for business as usual,” Walder said.

 

Mr. Walder assumes his position as Chief Executive Officer of MTR on January 1st, 2012.  He will become both a Member of the Executive Directorate and a Member of the Board of Directors.  To ensure a smooth transition, Mr. Walder will be appointed as CEO Designate on November 1st, 2011.

 

“This is an exciting opportunity for me to lead a publicly-traded, multi-national corporation with a broad set of business activities,” Walder said. “The MTR Corp. is widely recognized for its world-leading rail systems and the innovative property developments that are built around stations.”

 

The MTR operates commuter rail in Hong Kong and intercity rail services from Hong Kong to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong in China. The MTR is also building new rail lines in Hong Kong and China.   In addition, the MTR operates rail systems in London, Stockholm and Melbourne and provides rail consultancy services in Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Europe.  Beyond its transportation services, the MTR is involved in a wide range of business activities, including a successful property development business that creates fully integrated commercial and residential communities around stations. It has completed developments at 27 rail stations with nearly 75,000 housing units constructed and operates more than 18 million square feet of commercial space. MTR shares have been traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange since October 2000.   The corporation announced total revenue of $3.8 billion in 2010 with $1.1 billion of underlying profit.

 

 

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WNYC News

MTA Chief Jay Walder Resigns

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transit Authority Jay Walder abruptly announced Thursday that he is resigning from his post and taking a position with a rail service operator in Hong Kong.

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Transportation Nation

NYC MTA Installs New Subway Emergency Thingies

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

MTA New York City Transit's new Help Point subway communications system (Photo by: NYC MTA.)

(New York, NY - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) When the NYC Metropolitan Authority balanced its books in part last year by laying off 450 token booth clerks, riders wondered who they'd turn to in an emergency. Today came the authority's second try at answering that question.

Riders can now use intercom kiosks on two subway platforms to talk to NYC MTA staff. The devices are tall, attached to columns and glow blue. Riders can push a red emergency button to speak to the subway's Rail Command Center. Staff there, which works around the clock and includes police officers, can locate the rider by caller ID and dispatch police to the scene.

Speaking on a 6 train platform at 23rd street, NYC MTA Chairman Jay Walder said the devices--called Help Point-- are being tested at two subway stations on the Lexington Avenue line.

"It is the use of technology to make our customers more comfortable and feel more secure in our subway system," he said.

The kiosks also have a green information button connecting riders to the station's token booth clerk. The NYC MTA maintains there is still at least one token booth clerk at each of its 468 stations at all times.

Help Point replaces a previous generation of customer assistance devices that proved problematic. The older devices did not have digital audio, which sometimes made it hard to hear and be heard. They also had an indistinct design that made them blend with their surroundings--few riders knew where they were or what to do with them.

If the Help Point program is successful, the NYC MTA will consider expanding the kiosks to other subway stations, but wouldn't commit to a time line. Walder said it would cost an average of $300,000 per station to install Help Point systemwide. It would take more than 5,000 of the devices to meet the NYC MTA's goal of having one every 150 feet on platforms.

Riders have expressed concern about safety since the MTA laid off the token booth clerks last year.

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Transportation Nation

Long Island Bus May Lose More Than Half Its Lines

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Long Island Bus, one of the largest suburban bus lines in the country serving the New York City suburbs, may put the brakes on 27 of their 48 lines this summer.

NYC MTA chairman Jay Walder said 16,000 people may lose bus service and 200 workers will be laid off because Nassau County is not paying enough toward the service's $134 million annual budget. Walder said that given the NYC MTA's "fragile fiscal condition," the authority will have no choice but to strand passengers--unless the county agrees to increase its contribution.

Read more on wnyc.org



Long Island Bus, one of the largest suburban bus lines in the country serving the New York City suburbs, may put the brakes on 27 of their 48 lines this summer.

NYC MTA chairman Jay Walder said 16,000 people may lose bus service and 200 workers will be laid off because Nassau County is not paying enough toward the service's $134 million annual budget. Walder said that given the NYC MTA's "fragile fiscal condition," the authority will have no choice but to strand passengers--unless the county agrees to increase its contribution.

Read more on wnyc.org

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Transportation Nation

NY MTA Chief Spars With Legislators Over Paying for Transit With Payroll Tax

Monday, February 28, 2011

(New York, NY - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) In a sometimes heated hearing, state legislators and NYC Chairman Jay Walder squared off on the payroll tax that the NY state legislature approved in 2009 to bail out the agency. The tax applies to businesses in the twelve counties the MTA serves in an around New York City.

"We are paying greater freight in the suburbs for the services that are basically New York City services," said Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun from Orange and Rockland Counties, reflecting a common view among suburban legislators.

Walder said he didn't see the tax as a short-term fix but a part of the MTA's permanent financing solution. "I don't foresee a plan in any time frame in which you can phase out the payroll tax," he said, when asked if the MTA could ever balance its budget without it.

Walder said the tax--in which each employer pays one-third of one percent of its payroll to the state--brings in $1.4 billion a year to the authority. That's fifteen times the money saved by all of last year's service cuts.

Walder said the MTA wouldn't raise fares or cut service to meet its 2011 budget. But he wouldn't rule out adding more layoffs to the 1,700 workers laid off last year.

New York Governor Cuomo has repeatedly said that he is open to a "better way" of funding the MTA than by a payroll tax. But has yet to propose an alternative.

The payroll tax was part of a bailout package proposed by Richard Ravitch, the former MTA chief who later became Lt. Governor under David Paterson. Ravitch had initially proposed the tax in conjunction with a toll on the East River Bridges that are now free -- including the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg Bridges.  But those tolls were rejected, and a watered-down package including the payroll tax, a taxi-cab surcharge, and a tax on rental cars was ultimately passed.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Cuomo Talks MTA Payroll Tax, and Pregnancy May Have Its (Parking) Privileges

Monday, January 24, 2011

In Miami, a parking garage so beautiful, people get married there.  What can THIS mean for the future of driving?   And of public space? (NY Times)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has unkind words for the MTA payroll tax. "It is a very onerous tax. Not just in this area." Meanwhile: "MTA CEO Jay Walder revealed that he'd yet to talk to the new governor about transit issues -- saying he'd been speaking with the governor's aides, instead." (New York Post)

But: Cuomo is keeping both Walder and Port Authority head Chris Ward on. (Crain's NY)

A NYC Councilman has proposed free parking for pregnant women. (NY Daily News)

Meantime, bobcats and lynx now have a new design for a crossing over I-70 in the Rockies (Denver Post)

The Twin Cities public transit system is "fraught with distrust" as feuding bureaucracies fail to set priorities in the best interests of the public. "People are interested in how decisions get made," said one suburban legislator. "I've asked, and I get a different answer from nearly everyone I ask."(Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

The Washington Post takes a look at the methodology behind the Texas Transportation Institute's recent report.

A summit to save debt-ridden Caltrain yielded ideas ranging from better coffee at stations, free Wi-Fi and business-class seating to toll lanes on Highway 101, tax increases and consolidating the Bay Area's multitude of transit agencies. (San Francisco Chronicle)

First Chicago, then DC...now Boston is considering selling naming rights to everything from the lines and stations of its subway, bus and commuter systems to its Web site, smart phone apps and Charlie Cards. “We want to do it tastefully and not over-commercialize the MBTA,” said general manager Richard Davey. “I would probably be reluctant to rename Park Street the Anheuser-Busch Park Street Station. But, at the same time ... we’re very open to hearing proposals.” (Boston Heral

Some of the Transportation Nation team is in DC this week at the Transportation Research Board conference. If you see people with microphones, emanating that public radio aura, say hello!

Top Transportation Nation stories that we’re following: Not all transportation projects create jobs equally. The Mayor of Tehran can't attend the ITDP awards. And: New York City taxi rides, visualized  in full color.

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WNYC News

MTA Moves Closer to Electronic-Only Tolling

Thursday, January 20, 2011

WNYC

"We're here to usher in a new era in toll collection," said MTA chairman Jay Walder when announcing that drivers are one step closer to cashless tolling on the agency's nine crossings, "the beginning of the end of the toll booth."

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Transportation Nation

NYC MTA Chair: "If You Don't Need to Travel (In Blizzard), Don't"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

MTA Chairman Jay Walder meets the press to talk blizzard.

(New York, NY -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC) MTA Chairman Jay Walder held a press conference this afternoon to outline transit preparations for the blizzard bearing down on New York. In opening remarks, he said: "Service during a winter storm is always fraught with difficulty. If you don't need to travel tomorrow morning please don't."

Walder then talked about lessons learned from his agency's poor performance during the late December blizzard and detailed operational upgrades now in place to prevent stranding hundreds of buses in the streets and passengers on trains.

But his statement implies the agency is anticipating serious service disruptions throughout the region tomorrow on subways, buses and trains.

Transportation Nation is seeking clarification on the strength of the recommendation that non-essential workers in the New York area stay home during Snowpocalypse II and avoid mass transit.

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WNYC News

MTA Squabbling + Poor Management = Years of Delays and Nearly $2 Billion Over Budget on Mega-Projects

Thursday, December 23, 2010

WNYC

MTA Inspector General Barry Kluger is looking at why three of the agency's four big projects are behind schedule and over budget by nearly $2 billion. He said in a new report that squabbling at the agency is a big part of the problem.

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WNYC News

Some Para-Transit Riders Are About to See Yellow

Thursday, December 16, 2010

WNYC

The city has launched a new pilot program that will allow some disabled Access-A-Ride customers to take taxis instead.

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Transportation Nation

MTA Chief Talks Tough About Unions

Thursday, December 09, 2010

(New York -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC) MTA Chairman Jay Walder says unions have to agree to freeze their wages--or straphangers will have to pay more.

The MTA is hiking fares later this month--and is also planning another 7.5% increase in 2013. But Walder warns that fare hike will be even larger if unions don't help out.

He told a State Assembly committee that labor hasn't "played an active part" in helping the MTA face its budget crisis. Walder says he'll only agree to cost of living raises if the unions match them with increased productivity or fewer benefits.

Of the agency’s more than thirty unions, all but three are negotiating a new contract or will begin to do so in the next year.

Transport Workers Union spokesman Jim Gannon described Walder's style as "take it or leave it" and didn't think it would succeed. "That's not the way we do business," he said.

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