City Council Speaker skeptical of MTA reorganization plan, vows hearing

Council Speaker Corey Johnson vows to hold a hearing on the MTA’s reorganization plan calling it “rushed and pushed through” without proper public review.
for Brooklyn Paper
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When the Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved a reorganization plan for the first time in more than half a century, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it “a good start,” but the leader of the New York City Council says the state-run agency is on the wrong track.

The plan, which was approved by the MTA Board Wednesday, would cut costs by nearly $500 million per year over the next three years while eliminating as many as 2,700 jobs that will prepare the agency to “dramatically improve service, end project delays and cost overruns, and finally establish the modern system customers deserve,” according to its press release.

“Now that the Board has approved these recommendations, the work of transforming the MTA into a world-class organization that provides its customers with the service they deserve begins,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye. “It’s a new day at the MTA, our customers have demanded change, and we’re going to deliver it for the first time in nearly 50 years.”

The MTA said the plan would “institutio­nalize the enormous success of the Subway Action Plan, which has proven to be working and has increased on-time performance to 81.5 percent, marking the first time it had crossed the 80 percent threshold in six years.”

The controversial plan, which was prepared by a consulting firm in just three months, was approved by the Board in a 10-1 vote with one abstention, and of the 42 public speakers who testified to the Board before the vote, not one endorsed the plan.

While Cuomo said it “now comes down to execution and sound management,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who called for municipal control of the MTA when he delivered his first State of the City address at LaGuardia Community College in March, had strong doubts about the reorganization plan, which he said would take power from NYC Transit president Andy Byford who launched the $40 billion “Fast Forward” plan in May 2018 to modernize the subway system.

“I am disappointed but not surprised with the MTA reorganization plan and the process by which it is being pushed through,” Johnson said. “The plan creates new layers of bureaucracy and takes critical responsibilities away from Andy Byford. Byford is the one who is actually showing us that improvements in accessibility and on time performance are possible.”

Byford added his endorsement to the plan.

“This reorganization builds upon the progress made and will transform every aspect of our service and deliver modern, fully accessible transit to riders,” he said.

But the Johnson remains skeptical and vowed to hold a hearing on the matter.

“This was rushed and is being pushed through the board without any real public review,” Johnson said. “We need real accountability, not another opaque power grab. We won’t really fix the MTA until New York City controls its own transit destiny. The subways and buses are the lifeblood of New York. Massive changes to that system should not be made in 90 days, so the Council will hold a hearing on the MTA’s plan. New Yorkers deserve real answers and a chance to be heard.”

The transit advocacy group Riders Alliance said the reorganization would be judged by its impact on the quality of public transit in the city.

“No matter how the MTA is organized, Governor Cuomo is on the hook to provide service that is safe, fast, reliable and accessible,” Riders Alliance spokesman Danny Pearlstein said. Any monetary savings from the reorganization must be reinvested in more and better transit for over eight million daily riders. Following today’s vote, the governor should focus squarely on delivering an MTA capital plan that spends congestion pricing money to finally fix the subway.”

This story first appeared on, one of our sister publications.

Posted 12:00 am, July 26, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Caroline Milligan from Brooklyn Heights says:
He promises a hearing - but what about seeing first?!
July 26, 2019, 4:52 am
Selena Williams says:
If he wants to be “hearing”, maybe he should less “speaking”. He might just start “seeing”??
July 26, 2019, 10:54 am
The Truth says:
Wendall = Henry Ford (Nice try troll)
July 26, 2019, Noon
The Hunkster from Bed-Stuy says:
No matter what the elected officials, the general public, as well as the transportation advocates wanted to see the "two sets of books" of what is the MTA, by the end, its #CuomosMTA and we need to solely blame on Governor Crony alone.
July 26, 2019, 12:38 pm
Schiff for Brains from ‘Congress’ LOL says:
Omg, Quinn transitioned to Johnson! Well i’ll be darned! Makes sense!
July 26, 2019, 3:26 pm
SCR from Realityville says:
Discourse,unfortunately has been taken over,by a bunch idle-rich,who hopefully are drunk,and high? I NOT stroned,then they're just STUPID. Whatever,if the MTA/NYCTA,are unable,to run;the Subway-trains,city-busses(even the LIRR),on-time,people will continuallyswitch to,Ubers&Lyfts,taxis;or parents old automobile. Thus,no matter what the local politicians,tell us,our city's CO2 emmissions;will surge-instead of dropping. And while,it doesn't mean,the world will come to an end:by 2031-it certainly will NOT make any of us look collectively good. Our city's CO2 emmissions,might even increase double-digits,within the next 5-years or so;while they drop,in places,such as"Trumpland" West Virginia. Because,no matter what the,Coal Industry is finito,in our nation.
July 26, 2019, 6:47 pm
Larry Penner from Great Neck says:
Governor Cuomo's MTA reorganization plan llke all his previous special commissions and advisory committee reports, it is not be worth the paper it was printed on. Promised savings by consolidation of Civil Rights, Engineering, Human Resources, Legal, Procurement and other NYC Transit, Long Island and Metro North Rail Road departments have been discussed and promised for decades. . It makes no sense for the MTA to reassign management of major NYC Transit, LIRR and MNRR capital projects to Office of Capital Construction. All three operating agencies already have their own experienced engineers, operations planning, procurement, force account, quality assurance and control employees. Capital Construction has its hands full attempting to manage $11.2 billion LIRR East Side Access to Grand Central Terminal and $6 billion Second Avenue Subway Phase 2. . Stop wasting millions on transportation feasibility studies for future system expansion projects that will never happen. Do not initiate any new system expansion projects until each operating agency, NYC Transit bus and subway, MTA bus, LIRR and MNRR have reached a state of good repair for existing fleet, stations, signals, interlockings, track, power, yards and shops. Ensure that maintenance programs for all operating agencies assets are fully funded and completed on time to ensure riders reliable service. Cuomo and elected officials who depend upon transportation union endorsements, campaign contributions, phone banks and volunteers in the end will not stand up against their benefactors and openly support MTA management in instituting these reforms during contract renewal negotiations. Riders do not have the stomach to put up with potential work slow downs, service disruptions, employee sick outs and possible strikes by unions who are not going to give up what they have. (Larry Penner is a transportation historian, writer and advocate who previously worked 31 years for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions in capital projects and programs for the MTA, NYC Transit, Long Island and Metro North Rail Roads, MTA Bus, NYC Department of Transportation along with 30 other transit agencies in NY & NJ).
July 27, 2019, 6:13 am
SCR from Realityville says:
I recognize Larry Penner's comments. As,I have noticed his letters-the-editor,locally. Intelligent discourse,has returned. Still,will this lead to the NYC Subway-trains&NYC busses,operating on-time? As well as,the LIRR? Especially since Larry Penner,is from Great Neck. Will these MTA/NYCTA,grand reforn/reorganization plans,along with"Congestion-Pricing";to reliable,on-time public transportation? Or will be a matter,in the case of the MTA/NYCTA,of nothing ever really changes? And,"congestion-pricing", being yet another political extortion of,NYC? As a lifetime NY'ers,of sixty-one years,I intend to believe the latter.
July 27, 2019, 8:10 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
We could audit the MTA and make them more transparent to where all of their existing revenues are going to, but that may not make the anti-car fanatics happy if that will make congestion pricing feel both obsolete and unnecessary.
July 27, 2019, 1:49 pm
Dana Shagnuessey says:
Hearing? What about seeing???
July 28, 2019, 4:12 pm

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