Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Transportation Nation

In Case of Hurricane, Take the R or the G Lines to Work

Monday, October 27, 2014

Two years after Sandy, the MTA's sealed two subway tunnels under the East River (at least theoretically), but has lots of other work to do.
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At Metro-North, Punctuality Trumped Prudence

Friday, March 14, 2014

The agency's high on-time performance rating helped make Westchester attractive, but it became the railroad's Achilles' heel.

Comments [2]

The Brian Lehrer Show

MTA Chairman Prendergast

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tom Prendergast, chairman and CEO of the MTA, talks about transit improvements and interruptions as the MTA prepares its next budget

Comments [44]


Climate Change Fears Meet Development at the New Hudson Yards

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

After nearly a decade of planning and debate, ground was finally broken last week on a set of office and apartment towers that will be built on a platform above an MTA rail yard. But the location is in a flood plain, and a Columbia University scientist warns that the development will put an upper limit on just how much the rail yard can be raised in order to keep it out of the way of rising sea levels.

Comments [5]

The Empire

ICYMI: Cuomo's slow boat on transit

Monday, December 12, 2011

WNYC's Andrea Bernstein tried to divine Governor Andrew Cuomo's transit vision vis-a-vis the tax reform package passed last week. According to the post featured on the Transportation Nation blog, for those looking for more from Cuomo on public transit "it’s been a season of swallowing lemons."

There were the departures of MTA chief Jay Walder and Port Authority executive director Chris Ward, both seen as transit supporters – and their replacement with Cuomo loyalists Joe Lhota and Pat Foye, neither of whom has a background in public transportation.

There was the introduction of a massive plan to build a new Tappan Zee bridge, with the transit option mysteriously erased at the last minute.

And then: this week, to get his tax bill past the Republicans, the governor had to be willing to throw the MTA payroll tax under a bus, at least partially. Schools and small businesses would no longer have to pay the tax, which plays a vital role in maintaining the transit system.


Governor Cuomo reiterated that assurance Friday: “The state will pay, dollar-for-dollar, whatever amount would have been raised by that tax. So the MTA is held totally harmless — we’re just shifting the source of those funds from the MTA payroll tax to state funds.”

And the governor said no one should conclude from this that he doesn’t care about transit as much as, say, jobs for inner-city youth. “Obviously the MTA is very important to the region’s economy. I’m very excited about my appointee to the MTA, Joseph Lhota — all reports are he’s doing a great job and this will not cost the MTA one penny.”

But the idea of a broke state government being the guarantor of transit funds has left straphangers advocates uneasy.

Check out the rest of the post here.

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The Empire

New head of the MTA begins contract talks with transit union

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WNYC's Jim O'Grady has a report up on the contract talks that have begun between the MTA and the transit union. Things appear to be starting on a better foot between the new MTA chief, Joe Lhota, and the union.

Negotiations began with addresses by [Transport Workers Union Local 100 president John] Samuelsen and MTA executive Joe Lhota to a conference room packed with TWU members. Lhota started with a compliment: "My first message to you is that I know the MTA employees are our most valuable resource."

The remark was in some ways pro forma. But its reception by the workers — hearty roars filled the room — seemed to signal something new between the authority and the union: a measure of mutual respect. Samuelson said he never felt that from Lhota's predecessor, Jay Walder, who fought with the union and laid off 1,000 workers in 2009. When Walder announced his resignation this past July, the TWU constructed its official reaction around the phrase "good riddance."

Lhota, who started on Monday, shrewdly made his first act in office to join the union's call for aggressive prosecution of attacks on bus drivers. The union says someone assaults a bus driver an average of three times a week in New York. Lhota reiterated the stance at the Sheraton, to more applause. He then switched to the matter at hand and declared, "As we begin the collective bargaining process, you have my commitment that the MTA will listen to your demands and that we will negotiate in good faith."

It's assumed TWU will be asked for the same sort of wage freeze other unions throughout the state have been accepting. Samuelson has said his union will fight the freezes.

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Comptroller DiNapoli: Railroad Workers Cheat Metro-North Out Of Millions

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


An audit of the MTA reveals there was systemic abuse of overtime and the payroll system that will cost the state millions.

Comments [2]

Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: NY's Comptroller Sounds MTA Debt Alarm, House Dems Want to Save Auto Loan Program, and Where Have All the Hitchhikers Gone?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New census data shows how the nation commutes to work -- and how New York is different. (Link)

High-speed rail got a last-minute reprieve -- sort of. (Link)

Chicago will roll out a bike share program next summer. (Link)

The interim chief of the Texas DOT wants more travel options -- not just lanes. (Link)

New York's comptroller: the MTA's plan to borrow billions is fraught with risk. (WNYC's Empire, NY1, Bloomberg, Streetsblog)

House Democrats flirt with shutdown to save the $1.5 billion government loan program that helps car companies build fuel-efficient vehicles. (Washington Post)

The UAW agreed to extend its existing labor contract with Chrysler until Oct. 19 and plans to target Ford for a new labor contract next. (Detroit Free Press)

Freakonomics radio: higher rates of driver's licenses and car ownership have all but killed hitchhiking. (Marketplace)

Norfolk's light rail -- which just opened last month -- is already so popular that officials are talking expansion. (WTKR)

Massachusetts needs $15 billion in transportation fixes, and the MBTA is looking at a fare hike. (Boston Globe)

"If you smell something, sign something:" NYC transit workers -- whose contract with the MTA is up in four months -- demonstrated in Queens to protest staff cuts and sanitation issues at stations. (NBC New York)

President Obama returns to Boehner country today to use a major bridge in need of repair as a prop for yet another sales pitch for his jobs plan. (Politico)

Orioles pitcher -- and bicycle enthusiast -- Jeremy Guthrie (whose Twitter location puts him on "a bike or the bump") explored Boston on a Hubway bike. (Link)


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The Empire

"We hope for the best but we prepare for the worst": Bloomberg on city's hurricane prep

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The mayor delivered the following remarks in Queens this morning on the city's preparation for Hurricane Irene this weekend:

“We’re joined by too many people to introduce, but this is the community’s representatives, clergy, and laymen and laywomen who live in this wonderful community, and like all of us are worried about Irene. I met with some of the community leaders this morning for breakfast, and we discussed how to prepare ourselves for the coming storm and the flooding that could result from it.

“The good news is that our Department of Environmental Protection – and crews like the ones you saw working here on the street – are working hard to clean out catch basins, which will help mitigate flooding from the weather that’s heading our way. You should know we have 143,000 catch basins in this city. We can’t check them all every day. As a matter of fact, the schedule is once every three years, but we do inspect certain ones much more frequently because they have a much greater impact on the system. And so we think we’re a little bit ahead of where we want to be, at least we hope we are. But we’re doing everything we can.

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The Empire

For the MTA, current crisis is 30 years and a governor in the making

Thursday, August 25, 2011

DLe /

Jay Walder’s resignation as head of the MTA last month caught city and state officials totally by surprise. It also added another thing to sweat about during a brutal heat wave. 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 numberson riders. The agency’s five-year capital program—the money pool that pays for big projects, like construction on 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 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 rememberingthe immortal words of David Byrne: “You may ask yourself, ‘Well, how did I get here?’”

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The Empire

UPDATE: NY City, State comptrollers' audit targets MTA "diversions"

Sunday, July 31, 2011

If you were traveling from central Queens inbound this weekend, you didn't need either New York State Comptroller Thomas Di Napoli or the city comptroller John Liu to tell you MTA track work and the Dante-like ring of hell it creates were a major inconvenience to riders. E and M trains running on the F line and the 7 train not running to Manhattan made getting to, say, Williamsburg from Rego Park required three separate trains and a shuttle bus, and created loads of unhappy weekend commuters. [NOTE: I'm trying to find an updated term for "strap hangers." If you've got any ideas, let me know. --Colby]

A new audit of the MTA's transit diversions--all those weekend and night reroutings "because of construction"--released today identified unaccounted for cost overruns in the millions, an overall increase in the number of diversions New Yorkers had to deal with, and a failure of the often-maligned agency to properly notify riders of impending work.

“When  the  MTA  fails to manage its service diversions properly, it's more than  an inconvenience; it's a waste of taxpayer money and it derails local businesses,”  Comptroller  DiNapoli  said in a statement. "The subway system is showing its age, but the MTA has to do a better job managing all aspects of these diversions, from rider notification to budgeting.”

“Sadly  this  confirms  the  nagging  suspicion  of  riders,  residents and business  owners  alike,  that  subway  service  is  taken  down  more than necessary,”  Comptroller Liu added.

(Courtesy of the NYS & NYC Comptrollers' offices)

According to the joint audit, weekend diversions rose from 47 to 74 between 2008 and 2010. Over the same time period the number of diversions that lasted for at least month increased eight fold, from 7 in 2008 to 57 in 2010. Riders of the 7 train alone suffered nine consecutive weekends of diversions between January and March 2010.

While New Yorkers are all too aware of the inconveniences caused by weekend and night construction, the audit found tens of millions of dollars in cost overruns and waste that riders and taxpayers are footing to-boot. Night and weekend work often started late and ended earlier, the audit found, creating an estimated $10.5 million in unproductive costs.

Additionally, the comptrollers' offices found the agency failed to document why diversion work went over budget. On four projects the audit examined, the total estimated cost had run over by $26.6 million as of January 2011.

The audit also found the MTA failing to comply with federal law when printing notices only in English, and had printed notices of upcoming work for only two of the 50 diversions the audit examined.


A statement from the MTA on the report:
"Due to the 24-hour, seven day a week operation of the subway system, planned service diversions are necessary in order to perform maintenance and capital work.  We make every effort to minimize customer inconvenience by coordinating work --- performing multiple jobs in the same area so that we do not have to go back again.  However, some projects are extremely involved, requiring several shutdowns.  We strive to keep customers aware of the diversions, utilizing station, and in car signage along with announcements, both in stations and onboard trains.  Detailed information is also provided on the MTA website and through our email and text alerts."

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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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The Empire

Cuomo: MTA has two sets of books

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Andrew Cuomo has run an amazingly disciplined, if not overly-cautious, campaign, due in part to his unique hands-on-approach to campaigning and governing, and also, because he's a sitting state attorney general and can't say things willy nilly.

But last night, Cuomo leveled some of his harshest critiques so far, at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, saying "nobody's in charge" of the agency.

"And in terms of the amount of money they waste, two sets of books, certainly, five hundred million dollars in overtime, something like eight thousand people make more than a hundred thousand dollars," Cuomo said.

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The MTA's New Winners and Losers

Friday, January 22, 2010

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The MTA put up on its Web site a revised list of service changes that's more targeted than the list it put out last month (which was itself ...



Explaining the MTA's Stimulus Choices

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Beame Shuffle. It's a phrase that came about in the 1970s when Mayor Abe Beame used federal money to prevent a fare increase on the subway. MTA chairman Jay Walder's resurrected the term this year to warn of taking similar steps with federal stimulus money.

"We spent more than ...