State Senate Derails MTA’s Plans To Save

Ever since Jay H. Walder took over as MTA Board Chairman & CEO, he has been obsessed with streamlining operations & saving money. This hard line stance has been a huge sticking point in the agency’s latest battle with the Transport Workers Union Local 100 (TWU Local 100).

Both sides have engaged in a war of words through the media although less of that has occurred lately due to both sides sitting down to discuss a deal. Unfortunately the talks have not progressed into anything positive due to union rejecting an initial deal & the MTA returning the favor shortly thereafter.

Since both sides seem to be at a crossroads, leave it to the lovely State Senate to find a timely way to butt in & further complicate the situation. They have achieved this by passing Bill S3772-A which was first introduced on March 31, 2009. The bill would prevent the MTA from laying off anymore subway token booth clerks or run OPTO trains. Before getting into the actual text from the bill, here is a look into it by Pete Donohue of the New York Daily News:

The MTA won’t be able to lay off any more token booth clerks – or run subway trains without conductors – under a bill that passed the state Senate Tuesday.

The cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority was lobbying hard against the legislation it claimed would eliminate more than $80 million in savings in its four-year financial plan.

“I really don’t want to micromanage the MTA, but sometimes public safety trumps everything,” said state Sen. Martin Dilan (D-Brooklyn), chairman of the Senate transportation committee and a sponsor of the legislation.

Click here for the complete report.

Now here is a sample of the actual language of Bill S3772-A:

March 31, 2009:

The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:

Section 1. Short title. This act shall be known and may be cited as the “transit authority passenger security and safety act”.

The public authorities law is amended by adding a new section 1204-f to read as follows:

1204-f. Minimum staffing of trains operated in passenger service. 1. The legislature finds that the presence of train conductors and train operators on subway trains operated by the authority is particularly essential to the safety of passengers when emergencies arise including when trains are in tunnels under bodies of water or on bridges, when trains are long or composed of numerous cars, and during periods of heavy passenger volume.

The authority shall insure that at least one train operator and one conductor shall be deployed on each and every train in passenger service which meets one of the following conditions:

The train is made up of more than four railroad cars or is greater than three hundred sixty feet in length; or The train serves passengers on a line that passes through a tunnel under a river or tidal estuary or on bridges; or The train is operating in passenger service on a line where the4 potential passenger load on the train at any point in time is in excessof seven hundred fifty passengers.

Now here is the official “PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL”:

This bill would enhance the security and safety of subway passengers by creating a transit authority safety advisory panel to study, report on and make recommendations regarding safety from terrorist acts and to provide for a moratorium on the closing of token booths and minimum staffing levels on trains operated in passenger service in the New York City transit system.

Now here is the official “SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS”:

Section one of the bill establishes the “Transit Authority Passenger Security and Safety Act” and amends the public authorities law by adding a new section 1204-f to require minimum staffing on trains operated in passenger service. This section outlines the conditions upon which the authority shall ensure that at least one train operator and one conductor shall be deployed on trains in passenger service.

Section two amends the public authorities law by, adding a new section 1205-b; The York city transit authority safety advisory panel and Moratorium on the Closing of token booths. This section outlines the creation of an advisory panel to study, monitor and make recommendations with respect to the public safety from terrorist threats and criminal mischief in passenger stations of the New York city transit authority, its subsidiaries and the Staten Island rapid transit operating authority and requires a moratorium on token booth closures until submission of the advisory panel report

Section three of the bill establishes an immediate effective date.

Finally here is the official “JUSTIFICATION”:

The threat of terrorist attacks in New York City demands that the New York City Transit Authority make every effort to ensure the security and safety of its passengers. New York City continues to be a primary target for terrorists after the attack in 2001. security specialist emphasize that the transit system, especially subway trains in tunnels, under bodies of water or on bridges, are a prized target by these enemies to our democracy who seek to generate maximum media exposure and inflict heavy casualties on innocent civilians densely packed into a small space.

The presence of trained conductors and operators on such trains can and do act as a deterrent to these enemies of our country, and the presence of station agents in protected booths within the system, can greatly facilitate evacuations and reaction time from first responders in the event of life threatening emergencies underground. Accordingly, existing staffing levels should be maintained at least at current levels, until a comprehensive assessment and evaluation is completed by security experts that will assess the systemic security needs of the mass transit system in NYC in the event of foreseeable emergencies. To do less not only endangers the safety and lives of passengers using mass transit facilities, but encourages our enemies to exploit a perceived “weak link” in our security defenses.

You can view the entire bill by clicking here & entering s03772 or by clicking here to view it without entering any data. Whatever link you choose, remember to check all the boxes so you can see the full text, actions, memos, & votes on the legislation.

As for the bill itself, it is a terrible piece of legislation. I am all for the MTA cutting back on costs while at the same time necessary jobs being secured. So with knowing that, it is clear to understand why I feel the MTA should find ways to cut costs on all levels (especially their white-collar workforce which is severely bloated). On the same token, I also expect the union to be fair & work with the agency to curb outdated policies that cost the agency & taxpayers unnecessary money.

I’ve stated numerous times that both sides are not the only culprits in this financial mess. The real culprits are our elected city & state officials who have continued to steal from the MTA & its riders for years. This piece of legislation is further proof of that as it continues to steal money from the MTA & its riders via derailed savings & even worse, under the false notion of security.

As I said I am all for saving jobs but not under the false paradigm of security. When will elected officials & riders get that workers can’t save you as their work rules prevent them from getting involved. The most they could do is call for help which you hope arrives. I recently called the police in an attempt to help someone a few weeks ago in Williamsburg. Guess what, they never came! Anyhow let me not digress…

The point is that causing continued financial hardship for the MTA & in actuality their riders under the name of security is just not right. While a “presence” might stop some petty crimes here & there, it does not justify the price tag involved. As far as terrorist threats are concerned, do you think that extra presence is going to stop them?

Honestly if people actually studied political history or looked into declassified documents among other things, they would understand most so called “terrorist attacks” are staged events.

The times they are real, they are carried out by people mainly on suicidal missions. They don’t care how many eyes could be on them, their goal is to get the job done. Having extra workers there who can’t get involved for fear of repercussions won’t stop an attack from happening.

The real terrorist attack continues to be carried out by our elected officials via the theft of money from the MTA & the continued refusal to come up with sustainable funding solutions. Every single last official who continues to take a dump on mass transit & the millions who depend on it need to be voted out of office & replaced with people who get it!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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[…] by a few but realistically it is not a big deal as January 2011 is right around the corner. If the bill that passed the State Senate gets through the Assembly, I would expect the fare hikes to be even […]

Why don’t they pass a bill to bring back the V,W and Brown M and cut the fare beck to $1.50 or something?

it is really terrible how this country playes with the live on the citizen. A half year of feeling better for the riders and the employees. Better as nothing but not good enought. I hope MR Walders and the Board sleeps good while others do not know how to pay their bills after beeing layed of. At least Mr Walders did not learnd anything after London. Money do not make a better character, right Mrs. Shevell? It is sad that people who have been invetigated by the supreem court for paying out money on the teamsters and other things, sitting in the MTA board and in the NJ transit board. Who in the He…… appointed you guys in there. Naja for that at least you have a good live on you yacht with MR. Mac Cartney and feel so saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad .

[…] Wednesday, I strongly opined on a terrible piece of legislation that would derail the MTA’s much needed plans to save during their financial crisis. The […]

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