Elliot Sander New York Times Editorial

Recently resigned MTA CEO/Executive Director Elliot Sander took the time to write a powerful & honestly refreshing editorial about the MTA & the need for it to have full support from our elected leaders. Here is a sample of his editorial which will appear in tomorrow’s print edition:

NEW YORK’S straphangers breathed a collective sigh of relief last month when Gov. David Paterson and the Legislature offered up $1.8 billion to allow the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to impose only modest fare increases and make no deep cuts in subway, bus and commuter-rail service. But in the political process that led up to this rescue, damage was inflicted on the M.T.A.’s reputation.

Elected state and city officials leveled the old and discredited accusation that the agency keeps two sets of books, one real and one for public consumption, and suggested that agency officials were untrustworthy and corrupt, comparing them to Bernard Madoff, the self-confessed mastermind of an enormous Ponzi scheme. These false charges landed enough sensational headlines to help camouflage the politicians’ own inability to reach a timely agreement on how to finance public transportation.

The M.T.A.’s shortcomings are well known: crowded subway cars (ridership has increased by 50 percent in the past decade), outdated signal technology that limits the number of trains that can run per hour, decaying subway stations, buses stuck in traffic, the still incomplete Second Avenue line. But long-time New Yorkers who remember the transit system’s sorry state during the 1970s know how much it has improved in 25 years. Even today, despite a global recession, the agency continues to make progress.

The M.T.A. has long been burdened by convoluted and overlapping operating charters, work rules and politically dictated mandates. But during my two years as chief executive we made significant progress in consolidating the back office functions of seven regional agencies — those in charge of trains and buses as well as bridges and tunnels. We arranged for the two commuter railroads, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North, to save money by jointly purchasing equipment and supplies. And we merged what had been three bus companies into one.

Only with genuine support from our elected officials can the next chief executive keep improving the transit system. With enough financing, for example, the M.T.A. could form a single regional bus authority to provide seamless service from Suffolk County to Westchester County. And with the Legislature’s political support for labor negotiations, the agency would be better positioned to conduct serious and respectful conversations with its nearly 60 unions about modernizing work rules to increase productivity and embrace new operating technologies.

Click here for the complete editorial.

This editorial should be printed & sent to every elected official in the state who in one way or another can make a difference (positively or negatively) to the agency. Elliot clearly laid out the current world that is the MTA while being completely accurate in what it needs presently & for the foreseeable future. If the MTA is to ever become the best agency it can be, it needs the support of our elected officials. The millions who depend on the system deserve it & last I check our elected officials are supposed to serve us!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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